Missing the Story of Annan’s Succession

WASHINGTON -- In coming weeks, one of the most significant events of the year will occur when it becomes clear who will replace Kofi Annan as U.N. secretary general.

Unfortunately, when it happens, although it will no doubt make the front pages of the world's newspapers, and although it will probably have been preceded by a few days of speculation stories, the public will have a far sketchier view of what is happening than it should. Press coverage of this important story has been meager.

The question of who will run an organization whose functions range from offering neutral ground for superpower diplomacy to operating clinics in remote Third-World villages is not an insignificant one. That is painfully clear today, as the Middle East explodes again, but it should be obvious at any time to anyone who considers the critical international decisions that need to be made about growing problems stemming from war, hunger, disease, poverty and environmental degradation.

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