Monthly Archives: June 2009
United Nations secretary-general Ban Ki-moon is the second-highest ranked world political leader who has the confidence of many people around the world.
Ban Ki-moon inspired more confidence than any other political leader polled, except United States President Barack Obama, the United Nations information centre in Pretoria said on Tuesday, referring to a survey by WorldPublicOpinion.org.
Coming in second behind Barack Obama — whose public speaking, I think we can agree, is a little more inspirational — is not too shabby for the South Korean.
The poll asked nearly 20,000 respondants in countries that represent 62% of the world’s population their impressions of world leaders. From World Public Opinion:
US President Barack Obama has the confidence of many publics around the world – inspiring far more confidence than any other world political leader according to a new poll of 20 nations by WorldPublicOpinion.org. A year ago, President Bush was one of the least trusted leaders in the world.
What difference a year makes! And for his part, it would seem that Asian publics propelled the Secretary General to second place.
Views of Ban Ki-moon are particularly positive in Africa and in Asia – nearly all Asian nations give him positive confidence scores led by South Korea (90%). Indonesia is an exception: views are divided. Large majorities in both Kenya (70%) and Nigeria (69%) express confidence in him.
Countries polled in Western Europe have confidence in the Secretary General, including Britain, Germany, and France, but Poland and Russia do not, and Ukraine is divided. A majority of Americans (57%) report little confidence in him, while Mexico leans toward having confidence (38% to 33%.)
Kosovo’s long march toward international recognition took a big step today as Kosovo became the 186th member of the International Monetary Fund.
The Republic of Kosovo became the 186th member of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) today when President Fatmir Sejdiu and Prime Minister Hashim Thaçi signed the IMF’s original Articles of Agreement at a ceremony in Washington D.C.
Managing Director Dominique Strauss-Kahn welcomed President Sejdiu and Prime Minister Thaçi into the Fund at IMF headquarters.
“It gives me great pleasure to welcome Kosovo, the first new member to join the Fund during my tenure,” Mr. Strauss-Kahn said. “Kosovo’s decision to join the Fund highlights the enduring importance of multilateralism in today’s world.”
The Managing Director expressed satisfaction with progress made in institution building in Kosovo. “I am particularly pleased with the commitment of the Kosovar authorities to further strengthening the sustainability of their policy framework.”
The obvious question is “how will Russia take it?” The United States and some 22 EU member states decided to recognize Kosovo’s sovereignty shortly after it unilaterally declared independence in February 2008. According to the website Kosovo Thanks You, 60 UN member states in total have recognized Kosovo.
The IMF’s admission of Kosovo, however, makes it the first large international institution to admit Kosovo as The Republic of Kosovo. Unlike the UN, voting power in the IMF is attributed to a member state based in its financial contributions to the fund, meaning that western Europe and the United States wield the most power. Thus, it would seem that Russia and its allies were powerless to stop this vote from passing.
You’ve successfully held an election to choose a new president, and your UN Peacebuilding Support Office has extended its mandate for another six months. May the new president fair better than his predecessor…who was assassinated in March. And peacebuilding will require a lot of support; the country is still in a general state of “lawlessness.”
Evaluating the S-G’s performance thus far, Stephen Schlesinger looks at some of the places where Ban has accomplished quite a lot, but which haven’t received that much attention: places like Kosovo, Haiti, and Sri Lanka, where Ban’s frequent trips have all brought about at least some level of improvement in extraordinarily complex circumstances. Schlesinger sees the point that many like to make, that Ban is less charismatic than certain other S-Gs. But, he argues, Ban can be pretty hip himself.
The problem for Ban is his diffident manner, which stands in stark contrast with that of his predecessor, Kofi Annan, a larger than life secretary-general who dominated the scene through his flair, eloquence, and star power. Ban, by contrast, is neither charismatic nor an inspirational speaker – indeed, his English is not as good as Annan’s. In his own way, though, he is an engaging, polite man, hip to contemporary cultural icons, and even given to singing at public occasions with wry lyrics and verses. [emphasis mine]
This seems as good a time as any to repost Ban’s success in breaking it down with Jay-Z:
Rapping skills aside, Ban’s legacy will be judged, as Schlesinger concludes, by “what he has accomplished rather than by personal foibles or flatness of style.”
To begin with, Rothkopf repeatedly refers to the “U.N.,” when it’s clear that he’s talking about just the Security Council, the instance of the organization that handles matters of international peace and security. But to reduce it to a mechanism for conflict resolution, as Rothkopf does, misses the point. The theory underpinning the composition of the council, rather than elementary, is a rather nuanced and high-minded concept in international relations known as collective security. Put simply, an attack on one member state constitutes an attack on all. The logic behind the theory is to create significant disincentives for aggression, thereby increasing stability among the society of states. The best example of collective security at work was the council’s response to Iraq’s 1990 invasion of Kuwait.
This is a good point — that the complexity underlying the Security Council system is often taken for granted, or, worse, misinterpreted as simplicity. Now, one might quibble that the composition of the Council as it actually exists means in reality that an attack on one member state that is supported by a permanent member of the Security Council constitutes an “attack on all.” But in this respect, one could even see the relative polarization of the Council’s permanent members — with the U.S., UK, and France often on one side, and Russia and China on the other — as a sort of benefit. Every country in the world is probably an ally of one of these five, so an attack on any will be strongly dissuaded.
The problem, of course, is that aggression is not limited solely to state-on-state invasion, and that the same alliances that dissuade this sort of aggression can make it more complicated to take collective action to stop a country’s internal strife (see, for example, Sudan). This dynamic, though, is not a fault of the construction, or peace and conflict function, of the UN Security Council; it is a development in geopolitics, with which international security norms, writ even larger than the Security Council, have not yet fully caught up. How to make “collective security” incorporate the safety and well-being of a particular state’s citizens, without impinging on that state’s sovereignty, is a question even bigger than the Security Council. As a mechanism for resolving conflicts and maintaining peace, the Council is in fact evolving along with international relations, as it has to — but, as, say, the contrasting cases of Kosovo and the second Iraq war suggest, this progression is not a neat and linear one.
(image from flickr user Dipp under a Creative Commons license)
It’s mainly being looked at through a Hugo Chavez-centric lens, but yesterday, the Honduran military arrested the country’s president, Manuel Zelaya, in Latin America’s first post-Cold War coup. Zelaya was an ally of the Venezuelan leader, and Chavez is already blaming the CIA for having a hand in Zelaya’s ouster.
The reality seems to be that this was more of an internal Honduran political affair. The Huffington Post, in fact, is reporting that the Obama Administration had been trying “for weeks” to avert a coup. So both Chavez and the United States (as well as other bedfellows like Fidel Castro and the Organization for American States) are calling on the military to restore Zelaya to power.
It’s tough to say what is less democratic here, since the immediate cause of the coup was a rather Chavez-like attempt on the part of Zelaya to negate his term limits, but the U.S. State Department is playing the safe card of, you know, opposing military coups and not looking like they’re trying to topple governments in Latin America. Given U.S. history in the region, that’s probably the safe bet.
Here’s a video from China’s CCTV. I was on the lookout for bias, but the most I found was some apparent indignation that Zelaya was “detained while still in his pajamas!”
The SG: In Ethiopia over the weekend, the SG is now in the United Arab Emirates. Today he met with Sheikh Mohammad bin Rashed Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE, where the two discussed developments in the region, including Syria, Iran, Lebanon, Egypt and Jordan, and in the Middle East Peace Process.