The Next UN Secretary-General is…?


The best choice for reform at Turtle Bay is Serbia’s Vuk Jeremic


There’s an election on, and the top candidates include a Vladimir Putin favorite and a lifelong socialist who mismanaged a global humanitarian organization. We speak of the race to become the next United Nations Secretary-General.

That was the state of play when the U.N.’s Security Council took its fourth straw poll this month to suss out the leading contenders to succeed Ban Ki-moon, whose decade at Turtle Bay ends in December. Topping the list of 10 candidates is António Guterres, a former Socialist Portuguese Prime Minister who was recently the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees. Mr. Guterres is the favorite of Western Europeans, despite a UNHCR record that the U.N.’s Internal Audit Division lambasted in April for failing to comply with rules, safeguard U.N. assets, provide accurate financials and conduct effective operations.

U.N. tradition also dictates that the position rotate among regional blocs, and now it’s Eastern Europe’s turn. Among that group, the current favorite is Slovakian foreign minister Miroslav Lajcák, who was a Czechoslovak diplomat under the former Communist dictatorship and holds a doctorate from the Moscow State Institute of International Relations.

There’s also Bulgaria’s Irina Bokova, who runs Unesco, the notoriously anti-Israeli cultural and social welfare agency. Ms. Bokova is Russia’s preferred candidate and attended the Kremlin’s Victory Day Parade in Moscow last year, which most Western leaders boycotted after the invasion of Ukraine. Ms. Bokova’s chances seem to have waned, falling to fifth from fourth place in the latest straw poll. Another woman in the mix is Argentine Foreign Minister Susanna Malcorra, who was Mr. Ban’s chief of staff and is a favorite of the Obama Administration.

But as our Mary Anastasia O’Grady reported in June, Ms. Malcorra has used Argentina’s position at the Organization of American States to block discussions of human-rights violations in Venezuela. An Argentine candidate is also unlikely to pass muster with the U.K. given Buenos Aires’s history of using the U.N. to cause diplomatic trouble over the Falklands.

That leaves former Serbian Foreign Minister Vuk Jeremic, who polled third and is the only commendable candidate in the mix. At 41, the Harvard-educated Mr. Jeremic is young, but he was a leader of the social movement that helped topple Slobodan Milosevic’s dictatorship in Belgrade in 2000. He later served in the pro-Western government of Boris Tadic, who in 2010 issued a historic Serbian apology for the 1995 massacre at Srebrenica.

Mr. Jeremic also seems to understand that his first job as Secretary-General is to bring proper managerial controls to the U.N.’s sprawling bureaucracy and require U.N. officials to file annual public financial disclosures to avoid the corruption that became endemic in the days of Kofi Annan. That alone would restore some public trust in the broken U.N. system.

Whoever wins the job will inherent an organization that is failing on multiple fronts, from taking responsibility for the cholera epidemic it caused in Haiti to the failure of its peacekeepers in South Sudan to stop atrocities. The Obama Administration could do worse than endorse a candidate who believes in democratic values and bureaucratic accountability.

This article has been published originally by



Categories: Opinion

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