1 FEBRUARY 2013
|BAZAAR FOR "U.N. WOMEN" POST. INDIA PLACED $1 MILLION. WILL QATAR RAISE?
We admit a special admiration for U.N. Women Chief Michele Bachelet, despite her lackluster performance in that particular job. Her solid
background, gracious personality, courage under tyrannical pressure, and accomplishments as President of the admirable Republic of Chile, could give
her a Laissez-Passez on an unclear U.N. assignment.
All indications are that she will be leaving soon, including a discreet yet politically charged quest to replace her when -- and if -- she leaves.
Those who noted, for example, that India just contributed $1 million towards U.N. Women immediately linked it to the prospect that the Indian
Deputy to Ms. Bachelet, Ms. Lakshmi Puri, would take over in a harmonized normal manner. What gives Ms. Puri a significant edge is that she happens
to be the wife of Ambassador Hardeep Singh Puri, the influential highly-regarded Permanent Representative to U.N. Headquarters in New York.
Normally, that nomination would have been "in the bag" so to speak, given India's historic close relationship to the U.N. One drawback could
be the headline reports on the tragic situation for women in the Indian sub-continent.
Another challenge may come from Qatar. That increasingly active young and rich Gulf state is stretching out in almost every field, approaching
its role with gusto and discretion. There are whispers that a Qatari distinguished female member of the Royal family may be interested in the
post. The First Lady of Qatar, Sheikha Moza, has done a great deal to advance the status of women in her country. Clearly, she certainly is NOT a
candidate, but would naturally support an interested, prominent Qatari woman. For varied reasons, Qatar has special influence with Secretary
General Ban Ki-moon, and would, normally, get what it asks for. One handicap, however, is that the Secretary General has just appointed a Qatari,
outgoing General Assembly President Nasser El-Nasser, as Special Representative or "High" Representative (impressive only to El-Nasser's family!) on the
Dialogue Among Civilizations. Appointing another person from Qatar, and not any other Arab or Gulf country, would look very awkward. If a woman
from Qatar is appointed, El-Nasser's term as "High" Something could be short-lived. Some claim he hurriedly bagged his new nomination because he
sensed a forthcoming interest in the U.N. Women post and realized that it would block his own prospects. Such matters, however, are best
settled in Doha where the decision is clearly in the hands of the Emir.
Nothing is final yet. After realizing that U.N. Women leadership could be open soon, several potential candidates are preparing to advance
their own interest through their Permanent Representatives. Worldwide condemnation of raping women in India repeatedly highlighted in mainstream
media and websites will be an obvious handicap to placing an Indian candidate in charge of advancing the cause of women. But never underestimate
the versatile Ambassador Puri nor the stamina of his determined wife. Above all, don't forget that Michele Bachelet has not left, yet!