Thursday, July 20, 2006

A Ghani UNSG Candidature in the Offing?

[LATER UPDATE: See: Ghani Runs for UNSG and Deserves to Win]

The Financial Times now mention Ashraf Ghani among the two, top alternative candidates for taking over at the UN after current UNSG Annan steps down. But more than just getting the FTs attention, Ghani's possible candidature is being vetted from several sides:
"The conventional wisdom is that none of the four candidates stand much of a chance," said one Security Council diplomat. The idea is that once the field has cleared, other candidates will emerge from the wings. One strong potential figure could be Goh Chok Tong, Singapore's former prime minister. Ashraf Ghani, Afghanistan's respected former finance minister, is also contemplating a bid, having been approached by President Hamid Karzai and sounded out by several European governments, the FT has learnt.
As written before (Next UNSG Must Know Security), it is highly important for the UN that the coming top guy knows both development and security. Furthermore, he needs to be a proactive administrator. Being proactive in terms of bridging differences by bold or imaginative proposals before the differences grow too large is key for the coming UNSG. Ghani himself agrees with this analysis -- see his new piece on, and especially this argument on the importance of leadership:

In the absence of leadership, the people’s energy is focused on gaining immediate benefits for themselves. Groups, from organised labour in private businesses and schools, to even the civil service are demanding more for themselves, expecting the New Nepal to bring payoffs to them. Political leaders have been unable to counter such demands because they have not articulated the new vision and defined the new compact. The people’s movement was able to bring down the old regime but without leadership of vision and action, it will not be able to construct a New Nepal.

If the leaders fail in this critical moment, the state is bound to fail under the weight of excessive expectations alone. Surely the people of Nepal deserve leadership from their politicians to ensure that Nepal embarks upon a path towards a new future. In this unique moment, even the age-old social barriers to inclusion seem surmountable. A new future is no longer a dream, it has become possible.

However if this chance is wasted, the mobilised energies of the people could not only dissipate but, worse still, feed into a vicious cycle of violence and destruction. Nepal would rapidly fall back into the old orbit defined by the old dynamics. Seizing a rare, historic moment and turning it into the beginning of a new future requires a clear vision and sustained action. A clear vision enables collective efforts by citizens and sustained action reinforces their belief in the attainability of the new future.

Ashraf Ghani -- accomplished academic and practical reformer both -- would surely be a remarkable candidate (Ghani Would Be Good For UN: FT Op-Ed On Reconstruction).

LATER UPDATE: The FT reiterates its information on Ghani after the first "informal strawpoll" on the official candidates:
The poll has been described as only a first indication, as the process has some way to go, and other candidates are expected to emerge from the wings. One strong potential figure could be Goh Chok Tong, Singapore’s former prime minister. Ashraf Ghani, Afghanistan’s respected former finance minister, is also contemplating a bid, having been approached by President Hamid Karzai and sounded out by several European governments, the FT has learnt.
Moreover, a new Webmemo from the Heritage Foundation picks up on Ghani's possible candidature as well, mentioning him first among the other potential candidates:
News reports indicate that, while Ban Ki-Moon and Shashi Tharoor led the UN Security Council’s first straw poll to become the next Secretary-General, there is a “a general sense that none of the candidates were likely to succeed.”

If the official candidates founder, other potential candidates include Afghanistan’s former finance minister Ashraf Ghani; Prince Zeid Ra’ad Zeid Al-Hussein of Jordan; President Vaira Vike-Freiberga of Latvia; former deputy prime minister and finance minister of Malaysia Anwar Ibrahim; current high commissioner of Pakistan to the United Kingdom and a former ambassador to the United States Maleeha Lodhi; former President of Poland Aleksander Kwasniewski; Singapore’s former Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong; and Administrator of the UN Development Programme Kemal Dervis of Turkey.

How the U.S. will vote on the official candidates is unclear. Although President Bush’s statements on July 10 indicate that the U.S. has acknowledged demands that the next Secretary-General be from Asia, it also seems clear that the U.S. will oppose candidates whom it considers unsuitable. Thus far, the U.S. appears unenthused about any of the four declared candidates, which may in part reflect its uncertainty about the commitment of the individual candidates to fundamental UN reform. Based on comments by U.S. Ambassador to the UN John Bolton, UN reform is a priority for the U.S. and will be a key factor in its decision whether to support or oppose a particular candidate.

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