27 November 2016: According to a story published by the Russian website Sputnik, the Secretary-General designate Antonio Guterres could take as long as six months to appoint his own cabinet-level team. The story cited Russia's UN ambassador Vitaly Churkin and coincided with Guterres' meeting with Russian president Vladimir Putin.
Both Russia and China are said to have asked for prominent posts at UN Headquarters in New York in the Peace/Security area. At present a Chinese national heads the Department for Economic and Social Affairs; Beijing is rumored to want the post of Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Affairs that has been a "French post" since Kofi Annan's first term 20 years ago. No Russian holds a cabinet-level post in New York.
14 October 2016: The day after the General Assembly appointed Antonio Guterres of Portugal to be the 9th Secretary-General of the United Nations, he announced a five-member transition team to help prepare for his 1 January 2017 assumption of office. Three of its members have worked with Guterres at UNHCR, where he was High Commissioner until December 2015. The team leader is a longtime aide to Ban Ki Moon. The members of the team are:
Kyung-wha Kang (Republic of Korea), currently Assistant-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, will be the team leader. She has served as Director General of International Relations at the ROK Foreign Ministry and as Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights.
Melissa Fleming (USA), currently Head of Communications at UNHCR, will be Senior Adviser to Guterres and spokesperson for the transition team. She has previously worked for the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). The general expectation is that Fleming will replace Ban’s chief spokesman Stéphane Dujarric.
Michelle Gyles-McDonnough (Jamaica), currently UNDP Deputy Assistant Administrator and Deputy Regional Director Designate for Asia and the Pacific, will be Senior Adviser. She is a lawyer who has previously been adviser to the Secretary General of the Organization of American States (OAS).
João Madureira (Portugal), currently Minister Counsellor in the Permanent Mission of Portugal to the UN, will be a Senior Adviser.
Radhouane Nouicer (Tunisia), currently Regional Adviser for the Yemen Humanitarian Crisis, will be Senior Adviser. He served at UNHCR for over 18 years in the field and as Director of the Middle East and North Africa Bureau.
7 October 2016: In a letter addressed to all UN Ambassadors, General Assembly President Peter Thomson has set 13 October as the date for action on the appointment of the next Secretary-General. Following are extracts from the letter:
"I have received a letter from the President of the Security Council informing me that the Security Council at its 7782nd meeting held in private on 6 October 2016, adopted by acclamation resolution 2311 (2016) recommending to the General Assembly that Mr. Antonio Guterres be appointed Secretary-General of the United Nations for a term of office from 1 January 2017 to 31 December 2021.
"Pursuant to my letter of 23 September 2016, the two designated Special Advisers in my office are in the process of formalizing consultations with Member States and groups aimed at a judicious and consensual outcome in the General Assembly in the best interests of the Organization.
"Based on these consultations and the broad advice received, it is my intention to present a Presidential text early next week, for action in a formal plenary meeting of the General Assembly on Thursday, 13 October 2016. The time of the plenary meeting will be announced in due course.
Furthermore, as previously stated, I intend to convene an informal meeting of the General Assembly dedicated to a substantive dialogue with the Secretary-General-designate to facilitate early interaction with the membership. This meeting will take place the following week. Further information will follow in the UN Journal."
THREE WHO INSPIRE ME
$5.4 Billion UN Budget
The UN biennial budget for 2016-2017 is $5.4 billion, $170 million less than the amount requested by the Secretary-General. The approved total is $400 million less than the 2014-2015 budget. Most of the cut came from Public Information funding. Acting by consensus in December 2015, the Assembly also decided how much each Member State will pay. The United States and Japan remain the top two contributors to the budget, with 22 and 9.68 per cent); for the first time is China will be third, with 7.92 per cent.
INDEPENDENT NEWS AND COMMENT ON THE UNITED NATIONS
The Economic and Social Council convened an “event” on the morning of 27 June that considered the theme “Restoring humanity and leaving no one behind: working together to reduce people’s humanitarian need, risk and vulnerability.” ECOSOC has decided that the theme itself will be known hereafter as “rethinking the humanitarian-development nexus.” For video of the discussions on the topic go here.
2 September 2016: A year after the General Assembly adopted “Agenda 2030” as the global plan of action for the next 15 years the project is appearing increasingly Utopian. Read More
21 October 2016: The United Nations is now in the same situation as the League of Nations was in the 1930s when power struggles among major nations began to push the world towards the Second World War. Its Charter is badly out of date, its decisions and commands have no real traction and its member States do not engage in cooperative action on anywhwere near the scale necessary to deal with the challenges they face. Read More
8 October 2016: A new 36-page Report of the Secretary-General on how the UN Development System should be reoriented to implement Agenda 2030 is filled with such a dizzying collection of clichés that it loses all touch with reality. Read More
13 September 2016: UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein opened the 33rd session of the UN Human Rights Council by complaining about"an emerging pattern: the growing refusal on the part of an increasing number of Member States to grant OHCHR, or the human rights mechanisms, access" when it "is requested explicitly, or in other instances to engage with us." Read more
13 September 2016: The 118th meeting of the 70th session of the General Assembly segued this morning into the first meeting of the 71st session with a historic event: the first ever oath of office by the Assembly president, Peter Thomson of Fiji. Read More
UN Specialized Agencies, Funds and Programmes
August 2016: On 27 July, in a little noted decision on "Cartography," the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) made a change that will have more impact on the future of Sustainable Development than all the meetings of its High Level Political Forum.
21 July 2016: The World Meteorological Organization is reporting that 2016 is on track to be the hottest year ever. Kuwait has just hit a record 54.centigrade. According to the WMO, Arctic sea ice melted early and fast this year and carbon dioxide levels driving global warming have reached new highs.
Why Connectivity is a Game-Changer The connectivity revolution reverses trends that have concentrated power in elite groups for the last five centuries and made them, even within democratic frameworks, increasingly authoritarian. In particular, connectivity can decentralize the capacity to create and control wealth, making it realistic to expect changes long considered “Utopian:” that human development will equalize around the world; that all war can be ended; that democracy will become the human standard.
Beyond that lies a longer term prospect seemingly fantastic but entirely within the realm of scientific possibility: that the worldwide web of human consciousness will become the neural network of a global brain and give humanity a new level of universal awareness. Achieving those goals will require a level of international cooperation without precedent. To mobilize and build it into UN reform we must understand the nature and emergence of modern Europe, the region most responsible for the current state of the world.
The Shaping of Modern Europe Two quite different but mutually reinforcing processes Read More
Peace & Security
Rich Debate on UN Peace Ops Misses key Issue
A richly detailed and lively two-day discussion of United Nations peace operations and architecture (10-11 May), left untouched the basic reason for the Organization’s 70-year failure to achieve its primary Charter aim. Although the debate was shot through with facts and themes pointing to a malign and actively hostile international environment, no one tried to define it or say how the UN should respond. Read More