As the race for the next Secretary-General of the United Nations heats up one candidate in particular should alarm senior officials in the British Government: Argentina's foreign minister Susana Malcorra.
The selection for the next Secretary-General comes at a crucial time for an organization rocked by scandal, hypocrisy and Byzantine bureaucracy. The UN needs serious reform and the next Secretary- General must be able to lead the organization into a new era of transparency, trust building, and relevancy. There are three reasons why, from a British point of view, Ms. Malcorra is completely unfit to serve as the UN's next Secretary-General.
First, she serves as foreign minister of a country that has made a national pastime of using the UN to employ dubious politics, hidden agendas, and a very outdated view of the world to undermine the right of self-determination of the Falkland Islanders and British sovereignty over the Islands. Make no mistake, the Falklands issue is a matter very dear to the Argentines. In a recent survey by YouGov/ Ibarómetro 86 percent of Argentines asked said that the status of the Falkland Islands was either "very" or "fairly" important as a national issue. It was just 34 years ago that Argentina invaded and occupied the Islands and today Argentina continues its campaign of bullying and intimidation of the almost 3,000 British citizens living on the Islands. Can Ms. Malcorra reasonably be expected to remain impartial on this matter as a Secretary-General should be?
Secondly, while serving a chief of staff to Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon prior to becoming her country's foreign minister Ms. Malcorra exercised very poor judgement over the UN's suspension of Swedish diplomat Anders Kompass, a whistleblower who took steps to alert the French government of evidence of UN peacekeepers from France, Chad and Equatorial Guinea molesting children in the Central African Republic. In the end, an independent UN panel found that Mr. Kompass did nothing wrong. After resigning his position in protest Mr. Kompass said about the affair:
The complete impunity for those who have been found to have, in various degrees, abused their authority, together with the unwillingness of the hierarchy to express any regrets for the way they acted towards me sadly confirms that lack of accountability is entrenched in the United Nations. This makes it impossible for me to continue working there.
The resignation of Mr. Kompass and the retaliation against him for trying to bring to light a very dark chapter in the history of UN peacekeeping is a damning indictment of the senior leadership at the United Nations--in which Ms. Malcorra played a central role. The UN is in serious need of reform. It desperately needs a Secretary-General that can bring accountability, transparency and ethical leadership. Ms. Malcorra's handling of Mr. Kompass' situation makes clear that she is not the right person to lead the UN.
Finally, custom says that the next Secretary-General should come from Eastern Europe. While this is an unwritten rule, and many disagree with this notion, there is some merit to this argument. The Eastern European region has been all but neglected for international top jobs since the Soviet Union collapsed in the early 1990's.
Even so, the region shares many of the problems that much of the of the world faces in the 21st century such as economic growth, transition to democracy, and building stable civil societies. Having an Eastern European point of view serving at the very top of the UN can only be a good thing--not only for the organization but for the World.
It has been reported that Ms. Malcorra is the Obama Administration's top choice and that she is close friends with Susan Rice, the White House National Security Advisor and former U.S. Ambassador to the UN.
For too long Downing Street and the British Embassy in Washington, DC, have kowtowed to the Administration on the Falklands issue because they do not want to rock the boat with the White House.
It is time for the UK to stand up for what is in Britain's national interest and make it crystal clear that it will veto Ms. Malcorra candidacy. Not only over concerns over the Falkland Islands, but also because her track record serving at the very top of the UN during a scandal revealed her poor character.
Put simply, if it truly is interested in protecting the national self-interest of the United Kingdom, the British government should not seriously consider Ms. Malcorra's candidacy.
The sooner this is made clear the better.