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Secretary General, P-5 should cooperate: Shashi

A veteran at the UN, Tharoor said "The job of the Secretary General is to get along with the permanent members,".

india Updated: Jun 20, 2006 23:41 IST

Noting that anyone "unacceptable" to any of the five permanent members of the Security Council cannot make it to the top UN post, India's nominee Shashi Tharoor said on Tuesday a Secretary General needed to cooperate with the US and other four big powers for his effective functioning.

The UN Under Secretary General for Communications and Public Information, said if a Secretary General clashes or antagonises a Permanent member, it will affect his work.

"The dynamics of this election are such that anyone who is unacceptable to one of the five permanent members cannot be elected... The real election is the one in the Security Council," he told a select group of reporters.

"No one who is unacceptable to the US, China, Britain, France or Russia, who all have the capacity to veto, can become the Secretary General," he said, adding "but, thereafter, what kind of Secretary General a person is, will, I am sure, transcend the factors that lay behind his or her election."

A veteran at the United Nations, Tharoor said "The job of the Secretary General is to get along with Permanent members, including the US but not only the US."

Elaborating, he said "If tomorrow, the Secretary General openly clashed or antagonised a Permanent member on one issue, he will day after tomorrow have to go again to the same permanent member for support on another issue. As a practical proposition, you need to work in cooperative conditions."

Underlining that a Secretary General needed to cooperate with the Permanent members of the Security Council for "practical reason", Tharoor said "by definition, an effective Secretary General is one who can work with all countries and in particular with the Permanent members"

The Indian nominee for the top UN post said "I think the practical reason why a Secretary General needs to cooperate with these member states is because you can't achieve results without them.

"Ultimately we are an organisation of member states. The UN has no resources other than what member states will give it. So if somebody wants this job in order to attack the member states, he or she is being very foolish because their own effectiveness on delivering results on whole range of issues will be undermined."

Tharoor, who met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and senior officials of External Affairs Ministry to chalk out future course of action, however, favoured independence of international civil service, like the post of Secretary General, saying such a scenario will be more useful to governments of the member states.

To a question, he said if he is elected for the post, whatever benefits it brings to India may be "intangible" because the job is meant to be accountable to 191 countries and not to any one country.

He said India has traditionally had respect for independence of civil service, both at national and international level.

"I would expect, if I go into this job, I will go in as a leader of an organisation that is accountable to all 191 countries and I would not be consciously seeking in any of my actions to benefit my own country," he said.

Tharoor favoured UN reforms, saying the world body reflects the geo-political situation of 1945. He, however, said the Secretary General had nothing to do with it and in view of this, India does not see any contradiction in putting up a candidate for the top post and seeking a permanent seat in expanded Security Council.

On the issue of principle of rotation, Tharoor said he supported it. But there are countries which do not accept this principle, he said, citing the example of the US which wants the "best person" suited for the job.

With regard to his own candidacy, the Indian nominee said he had an advantage over others as he had worked at the UN for many years and had extensive experience in working in a number of fields like peacekeeping and refugee issues.

"All put together, I have view from inside," he said.

Tharoor said he was vying for the Secretary General's post not for a comfortable chair but was in fact risking the one he already had.

"I already have comfortable chair. I have a long career at the UN and I could have comfortably stayed on there and not taken the risk of a position like this which obviously both success and failure shorten the security quotient," the UN Under Secretary General said.

He said even if he loses the race for the top post, he may have to resign as the person who wins may not like to give the same assignment.

To a question, the aspirant for the Secretary General's post said everybody has a right of self-defence and one can take pre-emptive action.

But, the definition on a "preventive" action is being debated as it is important to judge imminency of an action.

He, however, refused to comment when asked about US action in Iraq.