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India signs off UN chief race

An unwritten convention states that permanent members of the UNSC do not field candidates because they already wield so much power in the UN system.

india Updated: May 25, 2006 02:32 IST

India, increasingly recognised as strong contender for a permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council, is unlikely to field a candidate for the post of the UN's Secretary General. The world's top diplomat, Kofi Annan, is due to retire as UNSG at the end of December, and, according to UN convention (UN General Assembly Resolution 241 of 1997), by rotation, the turn this time is for an Asian candidate.

An unwritten convention states that permanent members of the UNSC do not field candidates because they already wield so much power in the UN system.

Three Asian contenders for the post have already staked a claim; Jayantha Dhanapala of Sri Lanka, Ban Ki Moon the South Korean foreign minister, and Surakiart Sathirathai, the Thai Deputy PM; but there is no certainty they will even make the final shortlist, thrown up by the P-5. There has only been one UNSG from Asia, U Thant (Burma) in the late 1960's.

When the 61st session of the UN General Assembly opens on September 19, the issue of a new SG will be raised. So will suggestions to "democratise" the choice of the top diplomat, by shifting the final choice from the P-5 of the UNSC to a consensus candidate chosen by the 191 countries of the UNGA.

These are part of the "comprehensive reforms" being sought for the United Nations, to make it more representative of the world body and not just the "preserve of the privileged P-5," a leading diplomat said.

UN reforms are high on the agenda of the ministerial meeting of the 114-nation Non-Aligned Movement, scheduled on May 29 and 30 in Putrajaya, Malaysia. The NAM coordinating bureau will also discuss ways for the organisation to reinvent itself to be relevant in today's changing, largely uni-polar, world.

First Published: May 25, 2006 02:32 IST