Millennium Post

New campaign seeks to elect a woman UN chief

New campaign seeks to elect a woman UN chief
A European ambassador reminded colleagues of a General Assembly resolution nearly as old as the 70-year organization itself, a guiding document for a selection process for UN chief that has remained secretive and almost completely male. The January 1946 resolution says a “man of eminence and high attainment” should hold the post.

Perhaps, the ambassador suggested, some might want to add the words “or a woman.”

No doubt. Just three female candidates have been included in past closed-door votes and straw polls that the security council has used to make its choice for decades, but now two campaigns are launching to make sure the next “Your excellency” is a she.

“There have been eight men and no women. To me, it’s time,” said Jean Krasno, a lecturer at Yale
who leads the new “Campaign to Elect a Woman Secretary-General.”

Secretary-general Ban Ki-moon will remain in office through December 31, 2016, but the talk about his successor has already started, especially among UN watchers who’ve gone as far as scrutinizing the handwriting on paper ballots after Security Council straw polls. Ban’s successor is expected to be chosen late next year, though there is no official date.

On Sunday, the campaign will launch to feature around a dozen women it says are outstanding possible candidates with political experience. Every few weeks, another group of possible candidates will be posted online.

Next month, the international women’s rights group Equality Now will launch a similar Time for a Woman campaign while urging the public to pressure the UN and member states to make “gender a serious consideration for the first time,” said the group’s legal adviser, Antonia Kirkland.

Women that they’re pointing out include Helen Clark, former New Zealand prime minister and the head of the UN Development Program; Bulgarian European commissioner Kristalina Georgieva; Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite; Danish Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt, and Chilean President Michelle Bachelet.

“And obviously, you could have some sort of dream thoughts around (German chancellor) Angela Merkel,” said Laura Liswood, the secretary-general of the Council of Women World Leaders, a collection of 53 current and former female heads of state that’s not part of either campaign.

Another name floating around is International Monetary Fund managing director Christine Lagarde, though as a Frenchwoman, she is likely a long shot. Candidates from the five permanent council members’ countries — the United States, Britain, France, Russia and China — are by tradition not considered.


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