The UN Charter, in article 97, provides no direction concerning rotation of the post of Secretary-General. As the Asians insist that it is their turn
to hold the post there are many different arguments questioning whether or not it actually is their turn or not. The first time the issue of regional
rotation has ever been mentioned in a resolution regarding the election process of the Secretary-General was on August 22, 1997, when the General
Assembly approved its conclusions on rotation in resolution 51/241:
"In the course of the identification and appointment of the best candidate for the post of Secretary-General, due regard shall continue to be
given to regional rotation and shall also be given to gender equality".
(External Source, 1)
Now, there are three points in this resolution to discuss:
•Identification and appointment of the best candidate
There are several questions one can ask regarding the interpretation of this resolution. The resolution does not make it clear which factor holds
more weight than the other. If "regional rotation" is to be a determining factor then Eastern Europe, who is still recognized as a region by the
United Nations, has never held this post. Also, if gender equality is to be considered then a woman should certainly be considered for the
appointment as well. However, that does not mean that any of the women in the background that have been mentioned are the “best candidate”. So,
in this loosely worded resolution that can be interpreted a number of different ways there really is no credibility whatsoever to Asia’s claims that
it is their turn to hold the position. If anything it would give more credibility to the Eastern Europeans claims that perhaps it is their turn.
Many would argue that Eastern Europe only exists as a separate geographical group at the United Nations and therefore does not deserve a turn.
However, the Eastern Europeans will in turn argue that they emerged as a separate entity during the Cold War and to deny them a turn would be like
saying “well, yes we recognize you as a group, but not really”. And, to add even more fuel to the fire it is being argued that Eastern Europe
clearly has the “best candidate” for the position out of any of the candidates that have been mentioned so far from Asia. Aleksander Kwasniewski,
the former president of Poland, stands above any of the other candidates that have been mentioned. He is a former communist who defeated Lech Walesa
to be elected Poland’s leader and he has completely redefined Poland’s role and helped elevate the economy. (External Source, 2).
And then we have history. On the surface history may look like it has supported the regional rotation theory. However, if you dig more deeply you
will find that was not always necessarily the case. The practice up until 1996 right before resolution 51/241 was created suggests three different
positions held by at least three different groups of member states:
External Source 1:
•Those who assert that a principle of rotation exists and should be followed strictly.
•Those who believe that no principle of rotation binds the Security Council, but who in practice are prepared to vote on an ad hoc basis in a manner
that supports wider diversity.
•Those who reject any principle of rotation and support the freedom to champion the best candidate from whatever region.
For example, history reveals that in the past there have been numerous occasions where candidates from other regions were presented and seriously
considered suggesting that both the candidates and the governments endorsing these candidates did not accept the existence of regional rotation.
(External Source, 1) The pattern which follows shows the various geographical regions that campaigned for Secretary-General in the past:
External Source 1:
• 1953-Poland, Philippines, Canada, India, Sweden
• 1971-Finland, Austria, Argentina
• 1981-Tanzania, Austria, Iran, Peru
• 1991-Zimbabwe, Egypt, Netherlands, Iran, Canada, Norway
• 1996-African candidates only
• 2001-African candidates only
This pattern clearly suggests that not everyone within the United Nations is in agreement upon the regional rotation theory. And it can also be
argued as to whether or not the former Secretary-Generals were appointed based on the regional rotation theory or not.
So, if Asia believes that it is their turn to hold the Secretary-General post they must clearly provide a better candidate. It makes more sense for
the better candidate from Eastern Europe to be chosen because this nominee clearly upholds two of the factors presented in resolution 51/241. He is
as of now the “best candidate for the post” and if “due regard” is to be given to “regional rotation” then Eastern Europe has yet to hold
Source 1: www.globalpolicy.org...
Source 2: www.suchetadalal.com...
Source 3: www.un.org...