Still Want the Job? The Next U.N. Secretary-General’s Daunting To-Do List

Still Want the Job? The Next U.N. Secretary-General’s Daunting To-Do List
U.N. Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, New York, Dec. 18, 2015 (AP photo by Bebeto Matthews).

It is difficult to see how the United Nations can get through 2016 without taking the blame for one or more major catastrophes. Its latest efforts to make peace in Syria have gone off the rails. The Security Council is fretting about the risks of mass violence in Burundi. U.N. peacekeeping operations have had a shaky start to the year. Terrorists have kept up attacks on peacekeepers in Mali. Last week, violence in a U.N. camp in South Sudan spiraled out of control, claiming at least 18 lives. It may just be a matter of time before a similar incident escalates further, leaving scores of U.N. troops dead or resulting in hundreds or thousands of civilian fatalities.

So there will more likely than not be headlines about “U.N. failures” this year. But the exact nature and repercussions of the organization’s missteps will matter, especially now as it prepares to select a new secretary-general this fall.

In an unprecedented step, the General Assembly will hold a series of “informal dialogues” with prospective candidates in the second quarter of the year. It is not clear that this will affect who will actually win the job: It is the permanent Security Council members that ultimately, if unofficially, get the final say.

Keep reading for free!

Get instant access to the rest of this article by submitting your email address below. You'll also get access to three articles of your choice each month and our free newsletter:

Or, Subscribe now to get full access.

Already a subscriber? Log in here .

What you’ll get with an All-Access subscription to World Politics Review:

A WPR subscription is like no other resource — it’s like having a personal curator and expert analyst of global affairs news. Subscribe now, and you’ll get:

  • Immediate and instant access to the full searchable library of tens of thousands of articles.
  • Daily articles with original analysis, written by leading topic experts, delivered to you every weekday.
  • Regular in-depth articles with deep dives into important issues and countries.
  • The Daily Review email, with our take on the day’s most important news, the latest WPR analysis, what’s on our radar, and more.
  • The Weekly Review email, with quick summaries of the week’s most important coverage, and what’s to come.
  • Completely ad-free reading.

And all of this is available to you when you subscribe today.