Annan Navigates Consensus on Renewal

As predicted, China has indicated that it will support another term for Secretary General Kofi Annan. Russia did the same during a mid-May visit to Moscow. The U.S. announced its support during a Washington visit in March. Although France has made no official announcement, it's been known since last September, when a French diplomat replaced another as Under Secretary General for Peacekeeping, that Annan has its support. The African and Arab group have already voiced support. Among the five Security Council members with veto power over the nomination, only the United Kingdom has yet to announce its position. It may be a question of timing, or a sign of the intricacies of British diplomacy. It is commonly known that London is fond of Annan as a close friend. He also hails from a former British colony that is a prominent member of the Commonwealth. It may also be that the British government intends to seize the opportunity to drive a hard bargain, i.e. "how about returning Peacekeeping Operations to Special Political Affairs?" After all, it was habitually under British supervision, from Brian Urquhart to Mig Goulding, until briefly given to Annan before his election to Secretary General. Will the French agree to relinquish Peacekeeping and revert to the Economic Development leadership, assumed by Philippe de Seynes, Antoine Blanca, and the irrepressible Monsieur Ripert? Maybe, particularly if it is capped with an additional Assistant Secretary General post for a deserving French citizen.

Now that a consensus has been reached, the bargaining for certain senior posts will begin in earnest. Never underestimate the desire of diplomats to get senior UN posts. But then, don't underestimate the diplomatic navigating skills of Kofi Annan.