I’ve long hoped European Commission Vice-President Kristalina Georgieva would be the next Secretary-General of the United Nations. Fingers crossed, she may just get the job.
True, Georgieva is going to be entering the race at (almost) the last minute. And it’s also true that the current frontrunner in the competition to replace Ban Ki-moon is the very capable and much-respected former UN Human Rights Commissioner Antonio Guterres.
But it’s really about time the UN was led by a woman. The problem is that the leading female contender, Bulgaria’s Irina Bokova, lags firmly behind Guterres in the last straw poll. Bokova, who is current head of UNESCO, has also run into strong opposition from the United States and Britain.
So it’s time to change tack.
Georgieva, who is also Bulgarian and is now in her second term at the European Commission, has the qualifications, experience and personality to take charge of the global body.
She should have been in the race from the start. But politics and the Bulgarian government’s decision last year to opt for Bokova as its candidate, got in the way. However, it now looks like the Bulgarians have finally seen sense and are ready to back Georgieva.
Sofia’s change of heart is to be welcomed. Georgieva, formerly at the World Bank, has been an impressive European Commissioner. She shone as the EU Commissioner in charge of Humanitarian aid. And this year she also lead efforts to reform the international humanitarian system.
Nothing is settled yet. The UN race is proving to be much more exciting and unpredictable than anticipated. As Richard Gowan points out “a Guterres versus Georgieva contest would be a dream matchup for many UN officials and analysts…Both have held top-level humanitarian portfolios and were widely praised for their performances.”
But for all the reasons I’ve mentioned, I’m putting my money on Georgieva.