08 August 2007

Voting on voting, or afterthoughts about the ITTO's No. 1 election

Although I marked the election of the International Tropical Timber Organization (ITTO) ED as "past" in my calendar, I never mentioned neither the winner, nor the election process. Now, thanks to the IISD's Earh Negotiations Bulletin, here it is.

The contenders included
Efransjah Efransjah of Indonesia, Juan Sève of the United States, Jürgen Blaser of Switzerland, Ricardo M. Umali of the Philippines and Joachim Müller of Germany, with the latter absent during the election (?).

I did previously mention the first candidate, Emmanuel Ze Meka of Cameroon; he remained a favourite throughout the election and eventually was elected.

The ENB's detailed coverage of the ITTO session, including the candidates' presentations and elections deliberations, can be found here.

Several observations should be emphasized.

Probably, the ITTO's ED election process should be called one of the most transparent in the global leadership selection, ever (perhaps, partly due to the nature and number of members of the body, distribution of votes, etc.).

The tension between the developed and developing countries (or in this case, timber consumers and producers) - as well as division over the candidates representing them and debates on the rules of procedure - was again strikingly evident, with the victory of the South. Compensation for "defeats" in elections of top posts in WB-IMF?

The demand to modernize rules of procedure was obvious here, too - leading to exhausting discussions on a special vote (a vote on whether to vote on candidates) and a straw poll and even to disassociation by some delegations from the election.

Is the UNSG election's straw poll - while not having been applied this time - becoming a bon ton in top international elections?

Another, funny, similarities with the UNSG contest: absence of the German candidate at the ITTO elections reminds
Hammarskjöld and de Cuellar - who didn't know about their elections as UNSGs until after the elections.

Also, does the name
Efransjah Efransjah ring the bells, compare to UNSGs? :)

[update] Changes in the races: "-1" for Commonwealth, "+1" for UNESCO

While Malaysia's prime-minister is still "considering" the withdrawal from the contest for the Commonwealth's top post, Rais Yatim made his choice. He's out.

With this, bets on Sharma get stronger.

New hat in the UNESCO's ring. Egypt nominated Culture minister Farouk Hosni, the longest serving member of Mubarak's cabinet and an abstract painter who has exhibited his work around the world.

Egypt's foreign minister has already met with the "working group that ran the support campaign for Hosni" (I guess, just the Foreign Ministry's experts - as of now).

Considering Egypt's previous successful campaigns, Oman obviously faces a tough challenge.

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