Woman UN chief still a far away dream


World, Europe

n The international body has been headed by a male Secretary General in all of its 70-year history.

Antonio Guterres

United Nations: Hopes for a woman to lead the UN appear to be fading as Portugal’s former premier Antonio Guterres maintained his lead in the fourth round of informal polls to elect the next UN Secretary General, with men occupying the top four positions out of the 10 contenders.

The 15-nation UN Security Council held the fourth round of the “straw polls” here on Friday and Guterres continued his lead, getting 12 encourage, two discourage and one no opinion votes.

Guterres, who served as UN High Commissioner for Refugees for 10 years, had emerged as the front-runner in the first two rounds of informal voting.

Slovakia’s Foreign Minister Miroslav Lajck remained on the second spot getting 10 encourage votes, four discourage and one no opinion. In third place is former Serbian Foreign Minister Vuk Jeremic, followed by former Macedonian Foreign Minister Srgjan Kerim. Director-general of Unesco Irina Bokova slipped from the last rounds third place to fifth place in the latest round.

Other women candidates were at the bottom of the pack, with New Zealand ex-premier Helen Clark on the eighth spot, followed by former UN climate chief Christiana Figueres of Costa Rica and Moldova’s ex-Foreign Minister Natalia Gherman.

Apart from increased call from UN member states to make the election process of the world’s top diplomat more transparent, there is a growing chorus for a woman to be elected for the top job.

The UN has been headed by a male Secretary General in all of its 70-year history. The current Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, is the eighth occupant of the world body. Hopes for a woman to be elected are fading since no female candidate has emerged as the frontrunner in the straw polls conducted so far.