by MONITOR
THE annual World Economic Forum at Davos, Switzerland, brings together the great and the good of the global community and serves many purposes beyond its principal purpose of exchanging views on the state of world economy. Yesterday, for instance, three of the most widely favoured candidates to be the next UN Secretary General appeared together at Doha on a panel on the future of the United Nations. They were Jaybantha Dhanapala, a Sri Lankan diplomat, Ban Ki-Moon, the Korean foreign minister, and Vaira Vike-Freiberga, the president of Latvia. It would be interesting to know who chose these three men and why other touted candidates, for instance Aleksander Kwasniewski, the former Polish president, were absent. The choice of Secretary General is in the hands of the permanent members of the Security Council. The discussions between Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States on a suitable candiate are likely to be much more important than the kind of discussion arranged at Davos yesterday. Attempts to reform the membership of the Security Council as part of last autumn's package of reforms came to nothing. The long-established informal understanding that the post of Secretary General should be held in rotation between regions therefore remains in place although there are signs that the United States would prefer a “best person for the job” approach. If, however, the “buggins' turn” principle is retained the Association of South-East Asian Nations believes that an Asian should be chosen; the East Europeans take a similar view since previous Europeans to have held the post have been “Western”. Looking back over the 60 years of the existence of the United Nations it is difficult to point to any one Secretary General who would be generally considered to have been an unqualified success. It is an exceptionally difficult job. Perhaps it would have been more helpful if the big business brains asembled at Doha had themselves made proposals for ways in which the UN might be better organised and administered, not excluding, of course, the responsibility of member states to play a more responsible role.