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Third World say in next UN chief

India has proposed that the Security Council provide a slate of three candidates instead of the one name it sends to General Assembly for approval.

india Updated: Jun 26, 2006 12:48 IST

In a bid for a larger role for the Third World in the selection of the next Secretary-General of the United Nations, India has proposed that the Security Council provide a slate of three candidates instead of the one name it sends to General Assembly for approval. 

This departure from tradition, if accepted, will enable the 191-member General Assembly to decide on the next UN chief instead of the current practice of endorsing a single candidate recommended by the 15-member Security Council, primarily the big five powers. 

The Indian proposal was deliberated upon by a meeting of representatives of several non-aligned nations in New York on Wednesday. According to diplomatic sources, it has been agreed to set up a working group to examine the plan in detail. 

With the Third World bloc dominating the General Assembly, the proposed move has the potential to shift the decision-making power away from the big powers in at least one important area. Of the 191 member-nations, as many as 114 belong to the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM). 

Observers feel the moot point is whether the Security Council will be willing to abdicate its powers on this score even as the NAM representatives are expected to set out to mobilise support for the Indian initiative. 

Secretary-General Kofi Annan completes his second five-year term in December and a number of names are doing the rounds for the succession race. Several Asian countries believe the next UN chief should be from Asia. 

There are already three declared names from the continent: Ambassador Jayantha Dhanapala of Sri Lanka, Thailand's Deputy Prime Minister Surakiart Sathirathai and South Korean Foreign Minister Ban Ki-moon.

The Indian name most heard in this connection has been that of Shashi Tharoor, currently UN Under Secretary-General. The 50-year-old Tharoor is a well-known author and columnist.

Malaysia being the current chairman of NAM hosted Wednesday's meeting at which the Indian proposal was deliberated. The draft's outline, according to media reports from New York, noted that the General Assembly should initiate the process of selection through consultations among member-states and with the prospective candidates. It further said the Security Council should be requested to hold similar consultations. 

India has been holding the view that the ongoing UN reforms should extend to the selection of the Secretary-General.