Candidate for next UN chief asks to meet Security Council


UNITED NATIONS (AP) — Croatia’s former foreign minister, who is campaigning to be the next secretary-general of the United Nations, said she has asked to meet members of the U.N. Security Council who will make the final decision.

Vesna Pusic said she requested the meeting to hear the “concerns and questions” of council members and have its 15 members evaluate her candidacy. She spoke late Wednesday by phone from Jordan where she was attending an international conference of women lawmakers.

Another candidate, Moldovan Foreign Minister Natalia Gherman, also asked to meet the council, said a council diplomat on condition of anonymity because the council has not yet announced the requests.

The diplomat said the council is likely to meet privately with the candidates for an hour.

There are nine candidates so far to replace Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon whose second five-year term ends on Dec. 31. Each of the nine appeared before the General Assembly last month at webcast meetings to answer questions from its 193 member states for two hours.

Under the U.N. Charter, the secretary-general is chosen by the General Assembly on the recommendation of the 15-member Security Council. In practice, this has meant that the council’s five permanent members — the U.S., Russia, China, Britain and France — have veto power over the candidates.

By tradition, the job of secretary-general has rotated among regions and Asia, Africa, Latin America and Europe have all held the top U.N. post. East European nations, including Russia, argue that they have never had a secretary-general and it is their turn. There has also never been a woman secretary-general and a group of 56 nations are campaigning for the first female U.N. chief.

The nine candidates include five men and four women — seven from Eastern Europe, one from Western Europe and one from the Asia-Pacific region.

The council diplomat said at least three others are likely to throw their hats in the ring — Slovakia’s Foreign Minister Miroslav Lajcak, Argentina’s Foreign Minister Susanna Malcorra who was previously chief of staff to Ban, and Mexico’s Alicia Barcena who heads the U.N. Economic Commission for Latin America and was undersecretary-general for management under Ban’s predecessor Kofi Annan.

Pusic said she doesn’t know what her chances are because the profile of the next secretary-general that U.N. members are looking for “is a very complicated one.”

“It is sort of a leader, but a follower, a decision maker, but also a facilitator,” she said. “The best you can do is show what you do and what you know the best, and see how things turn out.”

With pressure for an East European and a woman, Pusic said “it’s a very good opportunity” for her.

“However, people will look first of all for quality and also for the specific characteristics which I said are very complex, that are needed in a secretary-general,” she said, “and I hope a woman from Eastern Europe has them.”

Pusic said she has been studying French — the U.N.’s second working language along with English.

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Associated Press writer Karin Laub contributed from Amman, Jordan.

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