Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Does Obama Really Want To Be The Next UN Secretary General -- And Is He Eligible?

Breitbart is one of those reporting that after his term as president is over, Obama has plans to become the next Secretary General of the UN. It seems though that the idea of Obama pursuing that goal is not nearly as newsworthy as the idea that Israel's Prime Minister Netanyahu is determined to stop him.

So the emphasis in the Breitbart story is Netanyahu Working to Block Obama Bid for U.N. Secretary-General:
Israel National News describes a Kuwaiti newspaper’s report about President Barack Obama’s post-presidential plans as “somewhat far-fetched,” but apparently plausible enough to bounce through publications around the world.

According to the Al Jarida report, President Obama wants to be appointed Secretary-General of the United Nations after he leaves the White House, and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is working to thwart his ambitions.

Al Jarida has Netanyahu exclaiming, “Is it not enough that we have had to live through eight years of Obama’s rule, in which he ignored Israel? Now he wants to be in a position to cause us difficulty in the international arenas?”
Putting aside the accuracy of the Al Jarida report, is Obama even eligible to become Secretary General of the UN?


Apparently, no citizen of one of the 5 permanent members of the Security Council (United States, United Kingdom, France, Russia and China) can become Secretary General.

The UN site does not seem to address this question.

Looking around the internet -- and this includes Wikipedia, it turns out that the main source for who is qualified for the position of Secretary General is not the UN website, but the PBS website:
Q. Who elects the Secretary-General?

A. The Security Council nominates a Secretary-General to the General Assembly which then votes to appoint the Council's choice. The Security Council is barred from nominating an individual that is from one of Security Council's five permanent members (China, France, Russia, UK, U.S.). (emphasis added)
That is not 100% correct, since the very first Secretary General -- even before Trygve Lie -- was Gladwyn Jebb:
Hubert Miles Gladwyn Jebb, 1st Baron Gladwyn GCMG GCVO CB PC known as Gladwyn Jebb (25 April 1900 – 24 October 1996), was a prominent British civil servant, diplomat and politician as well as the Acting Secretary-General of the United Nations for a little over three months. (emphasis added)
So are members of the P5 barred or not?

Another non-UN website may actually be closer to the truth. According to a blog dedicated to the question Who Will Be The Next UN Secretary General:
In addition, informal rules often influence the selection process. The best known is that nationals of permanent members of the Security Council - China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom or the United States - cannot be considered for the post, as such would invest an unwise amount of leverage over international decisions in one government, notwithstanding the statutory independence of the office. Less commonly known, and perhaps more questionable, is the informal requirement that candidates for UNSG must be fluent in English and French, which, while the dominant languages of international relations, are only two of the UN's six official languages. (emphasis added)
The question then becomes whether an informal rule in practice would be stand in the way of Obama.

Of course, there is also the question of whether any countries would actually want Obama as Secretary General.

Finally, of course, does Obama really want the position?

I don't know.

But Obama does seem comfortable with the idea.

Pictured: Obama
Are 2 terms as UN Secretary General in Obama's future? Credit: fox2now.com

Hat tip: LR, OC

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