Dag Hammarskjöld

Guardian editorial thinks Helen Clark is inappropriate to lead the UN

This must be devastating for Helen Clark to read, in what is probably her favourite media organisation, one that she usually gets a ?free reign in opining on whatever she feels like, has published an editorial suggesting that she is inappropriate to succeed Ban Ki Moon as UN General Secretary.

The United Nations confronts war, famine, disease, climate change and much else, but perhaps the greatest and most persistent challenge the organisation has faced is the tendency of its member states to deny it the leadership its work requires. The issue is back, as it is every decade, with?the selection of a new secretary general to take over in 2016.

The UN enshrined the idea of harnessing the talents of a group of men and women from around the world, accountable to governments but working exclusively for the global good. It has only sometimes, and quite by accident, been fulfilled. When there is sufficient leadership to give life to it, the arts of peace flourish and the global discourse is enriched. When there is not, a price is paid in blood.

Fair, noble aspirations…if somewhat motherhood and apple pie in their outlook.

The editorial then disses the British candidate before setting upon Helen Clark.

The field of those seeking to be the next secretary general is widely felt to be underwhelming. Helen Clark, the head of the UN Development Programme, gave an example of how a UN official should not behave when, before the current secretary general was even halfway through his term, she began to discuss, in these pages, her interest in succeeding him. It is time for something more serious. A small search committee should be established, led by Kofi Annan, with representatives of the permanent members of the security council, other regions, and a professional headhunter, and it should work through most of next year. The idea that candidates should be limited to one region is unfounded and can be dispensed with. The council should recommend more than one candidate to the general assembly, which should make an appointment for a single term of seven years.

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