Guterres? Lajcak? Who is now a favorite for the next UN Secretary General?

Portugal’s ex-PM Antonio Guterres still staying strong, Slovakia’s FM Lajcak rises and female candidates are doing so-so in the last round of votes for the next UNSG e.g. here  So how do you see the state of the race  for the next UNSG after three straw polls? Any real favorites and why? Read few comments.

Sam DawsDirector, Project on UN Governance and Reform, Centre for International Studies, University of Oxford.

The third UN Security Council round of indicative voting is striking in three respects:

1) Female candidates are not doing as well as many observers had hoped. It is surely time for a female Secretary-General, after 8 male UN Secretaries-General in a row. However Bokova has performed better than expected, with a reduction in “discourages”.

2) Antonio Guterres is still leading despite being both male and from Western Europe, in an election where female candidates were encouraged to stand and some observers believed that it was the “turn” of an Eastern European national to be selected the UN’s top job.

3) Slovakia’s Miroslav Lajcak has jumped to second place. The rise in Lajcak’s number of “encourages” between voting rounds is unprecedented and suggests a highly successful diplomatic campaign, in New York and in capitals, in securing increased support from a number of UN Security Council members. However Lajcak still faces two more “discourages” than Guterres, and faces continued challenge from fellow Eastern Europeans, Bokova, Jeremic and Turk.

It is important to note that it is still not too late for new candidates to emerge if the UN Security Council cannot agree on a candidate from the current field. However such candidates would still need to face hustings in the UN General Assembly. As candidates increasingly drop out from the current list it will also be harder for new candidates to enter the contest.

Martin EdwardsAssociate Professor and Director, Center for UN and Global Governance Studies, Seton Hall University

1)  It’s obvious that the race is tightening up, even though we aren’t to the colored ballots that would indicate P5 vetoes. It is no accident that Guterres received an additional discourage vote – though we don’t know who that came from.

2)  The norm that the next SG come from Eastern Europe is very strong in the chamber, as reflected by the multiple candidates from the region who are still very much in contention.

3)  FM Lajcak is in serious contention as a possible compromise candidate, given concerns from the West about both Jeremic and from the US about Bokova. While the Russians and Chinese have expressed a preference for regional rotation, it is not clear if that would result in an actual veto (or vetoes) on Guterres. If it does, then Lajcak is in a great position.

4)  There will still be speculation about a wild card candidate entering the race. If countries aren’t happy with the top four, then Rudd and Georgieva might come into play.

Unto VesaEmeritus Research Fellow, Tampere Peace Research Institute – TAPRI, University of Tampere

It is really an important question, because the UN always needs the best possible Secretary-General to lead the world organization. It has been widely hoped that this time the would get its first female SG, but now it doesn’t seem to be very likely. However, it is very difficult to predict or even to speculate, because it is not known, which countries have cast the discourage votes, and how strong is the position behind that discouragement. I would suppose that the final choice is between the three-five candidates, who received most encourage votes on the third round, but we don’t know, if any of the permanent five is ready to block one or more of these. Very probably negotiations and bargaining between key players – I guess, especially between the USA and Russia – continue until they find a consensus candidate.

Daniel Serwer, Senior Research Professor of Conflict Management, Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, John Hopkins University, Scholar, Middle East Institute

The straw polls have served to eliminate a few candidates, but they are not really relevant to the ultimate choice, which is decided by Moscow and Washington. The winner will be whoever is able to avoid a “nyet” from one or the other. No telling who that might be, though I suspect Moscow is not keen on any candidate from a NATO country, which includes both Guterres and Lajcak.



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