I can articulate new vision: Tharoor
India's nominee Shashi Tharoor, who has emerged as one of the two top contenders for the post of United Nations secretary-general, believes he can offer a genuine alternative - a candidate from the South who can articulate a positive vision for a UN of the 21st century.
Tharoor, who came a close second to South Korean Foreign Minister Ban Ki-Moon in the first informal straw poll in the 15-member Security Council Monday night, pointed out that he also had the skills and experience of 28 years to bring about meaningful change to realise that vision.
"I believe this result marks a good beginning on which I hope to build in subsequent ballots," said Tharoor, who is currently UN Under Secretary-General for Communications and Public Information, in a statement after getting 10 endorsements behind Moon's 12.
Under a new procedure adopted by the Council, the ballot of each candidate had three boxes - "encourage", "discourage" and "no opinion". The members were expected to check one box. Tharoor scored 10-2-3 as against Moon's 12-1-3.
Of the two other declared contenders, Thai Deputy Prime Minister Surakiart Sathirathai, who has been endorsed by ASEAN, and Sri Lankan Jayantha Dhanapala finished third and fourth with the scores of 7-3-5 and 5-6-3 respectively, according to diplomats who took part in the secret ballot.
The results of straw polls are officially communicated only to the ambassadors of the countries that have fielded a candidate to enable them to decide whether or not they want their nominee to stay in the fray.
"Considering I've entered the race just a month ago and am the only candidate who hasn't visited all 15 capitals, I'm gratified to have received such a broad base of support in the Council," Tharoor stated.
"I have the highest personal regard for Mr Ban but believe I offer a genuine alternative, of a candidate from the South who can articulate a positive vision for a UN of the 21st century - and the skills and experience of 28 years to bring about a meaningful change to realise that vision," he added.
Each member of the Council votes separately for each candidate. Thus one member can vote "encouragement" for more than one candidate. However, it was not clear how the five veto-wielding permanent members voted as all members were given similar ballots.
The straw poll marked the beginning of the selection process for the next secretary-general, who is appointed by the UN General Assembly on the recommendation of the Security Council.
The process could last till October. New candidates can be introduced at any stage till the final selection of the person to succeed incumbent Kofi Annan who retires Dec 31 after completing two terms.
Asia believes its turn has arrived to provide the world's top diplomat, a contention supported by permanent members China and Russia. Asia has not held the job since U Thant of Burma (now Myanmar) retired in 1971. He was elevated after secretary-general Dag Hammarskjold was killed in a plane crash in September 1961.