UNITED NATIONS. WHAT HAPPENED TO U.N. WOMEN II? IS MS. BACHELET RETURNING TO CHILE?!

 

15 SEPTEMBER 2012

WHAT HAPPENED TO U.N. WOMEN II? IS MS. BACHELET RETURNING TO CHILE?!

When we raised the question (see headline in July 2012) we received a stream of information and comments, mainly verbal and mostly from interested U.N. staff and diplomats who did not wish to be quoted.

There was a consensus about Michele Bachelet's outstanding record and qualifications. There was similar agreement that "U.N. Women" did not meet even a fraction of expectations. In the crucial area of finding financial resources -- initially targeted at $500 million, the outcome of contributions was still in the tens of thousands. It was noted that one substantively contributing country had a close relative of its Permanent Representative appointed to a senior post under her maiden name. Two auditor's reports were not very complimentary about the management process, as the top chief keeps travelling around the globe, clearly enjoying a warm welcome by enthusiastic groups of women.

Let us repeat that we have the utmost respect for the person of Michele Bachelet and her heroic struggle to defend human dignity -- in Chile and elsewhere. We, like many others, are still puzzled by very limited programme performance thus far and still hope for a more active, more creative action soon. Whether she is receiving any practical support from those around the Secretary General is a valid question. We will not single out names, and leave it at that.

We were informed, however, by a fairly well-connected person on women's issues, not to hold our breath. Confidential diplomatic whispers indicate that Ms. Bachelet will be returning to Chile in December. If she decides to run for President again, public opinion surveys indicate she has a 56% chance to win, while her closest competitor has only 16%. Very few seem to blame her. After all, what would you rather do: run one of the most prosperous countries in Latin America, or read tea leaves at the U.N. interim North Lawn compound in New York?