19 July 2007

So, what's up with the Commonwealth SG race?

The election of McKinnon's successor is due in November during the Commonwealth summit in Kampala, Uganda.

As in the last year's contest for the UNSG post, Asia again demands its turn for "Sec-Gen" - contrary to McKinnon's statement that his successor need not be Asian:

"There is an assumption that it could be an Asian candidate because Asia has not had a secretary-general,'' he told The Associated Press. "The message will be, sure put up an Asian candidate ... but Commonwealth leaders would want to ensure that he or she is a credible and good candidate,'' he said.

As if responding to him, the news portal malaysiakini.com (see here and here) is laconic and firm about the credits of Malaysian candidate, Culture, Arts and Heritage minister Datuk Seri Dr Rais Yatim:

  • A very good candidate;
  • Interact with world leaders;
  • Former foreign minister;
  • Asia's turn to hold post
Looks like Malaysia is progressing in lobbying activities; so far, Rais Yatim's candidature was already endorsed by Brunei and Singapore. The election campaign fortunately coincides with two others - A Day in the Life of Malaysia dedicated to Malaysia's 50th anniversary and Our Vision For The Nation with the backing of 38 corporations including Maybank ($100,000 donation) and Tenaga Nasional Bhd.

Rais Yatim is facing a rather heavy-weight rival, India's current ambassador to UK and former representative to the UN and UNSG's envoy to East Timor Kamalesh Sharma. Apparently, Sharma was among the short-listed candidates for the foreign minister's portfolio. Sharma is said to be close to Sonia Gandhi’s family and to have an advance support from the British government.

There was a word that before the final decision on Sharma, as India's choice the candidatures of prime-minister's envoy Shyam Saran and - who else?! - Shashi Tharoor (now chairman of Dubai-based Afras Venture) were under consideration. If the latter went again anyway to the races, I highly doubt that the UK's support - with Shashi's friend at high position in the cabinet - would so easily go to the actual nominee.

Oddly enough, another official candidate for the Commonwealth SG post is also an Indian. And also claims to have obtained the Brits' endorsement (most probably, because he's "a very popular British non-resident Indian"). However, Mohan Kaul is not contesting on India's behalf, but rather as an ex officio DG of the Commonwealth Business Council.

Finally, we have the only non-Asian contester, Malta's foreign minister Michael Frendo. Can't say much neither about him, nor about his country's ambitions on top international posts; might just mention De Marco as PGA-45 or Zammit Cutajar as former ASG and chief of the Climate Change Convention.

Well-placed sources indicate the probability of having additional nominees, including the recently retired Bangladesh's UN permanent representative, "architect" of the WTO's shared DG-ship,
Iftekhar Chowdhury.

17 July 2007

Early bird for UNESCO top job

Just got a word: Oman has officially nominated her ambassador to UNESCO, Musa Bin Jaafar Bin Hassan for the UNESCO DG.

Considering that the incumbent DG, Koïchiro Matsuura of Japan, was reappointed just less than two years ago (his term expires in late 2009), such a move by the Sultanate of Oman might seem to be really premature.

On the other hand, Bin Hassan has some credits, no least of which is his presidency over the 33rd UNESCO General Conference in 2005 - and at that time the Organization celebrated - at the highest level - its 60th anniversary

15 July 2007

Headhunters' role in global leadership selection

I always wondered how – in the process of looking for leaders "to champion" and "to galvanize the world and the United Nations system" – the tandem of UN body and headhunting agency is working, especially as the price for services of the latter is far from modest.

The story (actually, just email exchange provided by the diplomat who initiated it) below is about a rather evidential aspect of such cooperation.

Last November, one of the UN funds (named here as UNfund) announced a vacancy of its Deputy Executive Director with the rank of ASG. The fund emphasized it was looking for a next DED with such competencies as "commitment to the fund's values", "leadership", "management abilities, strong interpersonal and communication skills", etc.

Following the announcement, the diplomat made a simple request on the document the UNfund was referring to.

Here's what the request developed into.

Note: it's pretty clear that neither "Jan Eliasson of Swedish mission", nor "M. Malloch Brown of Malloch Brown Associates" are real characters.

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Subject: Request on UNfund DED vacancy
From: JanEliasson@SwedishMission.org
Date: Tue, November 28, 2006 9:05 pm
To: ded@UNunfund.org

Dear Madam/Sir,

In the UNfund information note of 20 November 2006 on the vacancy of Deputy Executive Director in
the UNfund, the reference is made to "the current UN guidelines for an open and transparent recruitment
Upon the instruction from my capital, I would like to request the UNfund Department of Human Resources
to advise on the document containing the above guidelines.
Jan Eliasson
Subject:   RE: Request on UNfund DED vacancy
From: ded@UNfund.org
Date: Wed, January 3, 2007 1:43 pm
To: JanEliasson@SwedishMission.org
Cc: UNfund@MallochBrownAssoc.com

Thank you for this expression of interest in the position of Deputy Executive Director (Assistant
Secretary-General) of UNfund.
Malloch Brown Associates is assisting UNfund in conducting the search for suitable candidates and
all candidatures submitted will be forwarded to them.
Malloch Brown Associates will be following up with all applicants directly.

Subject: RE: Request on UNfund DED vacancy
From: MMB@ MallochBrownAssoc.com
Date: Thu, January 25, 2007 12:55 pm
To: JanEliasson@SwedishMission.org

Thank you for your expression of interest in the position of Deputy Executive Director (Assistant Secretary-General) of UNfund.
UNfund has forwarded Malloch Brown Associates your materials as we are assisting them in this search. 
We expect a strong applicant pool and will be in touch with you once we have determined next steps.

Best regards,
M. Malloch Brown
Malloch Brown Associates

Subject: RE: Request on UNfund DED vacancy
From: MMB@MallochBrownAssoc.com
Date: Tue, April 3, 2007 10:01 am
To: JanEliasson@SwedishMission.org

Dear Mr. Eliasson,
On behalf of UNfund, we appreciate your expression of interest in the Deputy Executive Director position.
This opportunity has generated an enormous amount of interest and we have an exceptionally qualified
candidate pool.
While you would have much to bring to UNfund, I am sorry to advise that you have not been selected as
a finalist.
We wish you every success in the future.

M. Malloch Brown
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