|Annan Navigates Consensus
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.