UN May Pick Its First Woman To Lead

By Tracy Wilkinson
Tribune Washington Bureau

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) Could it finally be time for a woman to lead the U.N.? Some say that given the U.N.’s widely criticized response to scandals such as sex abuse by some U.N. peacekeeping troops and its struggle to respond to the mass movement of refugees in the Middle East and Europe, a new kind of voice, especially that of a woman, is in order.


The chatter these days in the halls of the labyrinthine United Nations complex almost resembles a contested U.S. political convention. Only the names and nationalities are different.

For the first time since the U.N. was founded in 1945, the 193 member states will choose a new secretary-general in a relatively open and apparently transparent election.

And for the first time, a woman could win.

Voting, usually a secretive process of geopolitical deal-making, starts later this year, and the new term starts Jan. 1. Those vying for the post include at least four women, as well as candidates from some of the planet’s tiniest countries, like little Montenegro (population: 650,000).

Formally, nine candidates have thrown their hats in the ring, and a few more are expected in the coming days. Speculation is rampant that someone of the stature of, say, Angela Merkel, chancellor of Germany, could be recruited.

The candidates are making the rounds of hearings, submitting their resumes and traveling to high-profile U.N. events the world over. Campaigning can be risky, though, for a position whose job description could be “world’s ultimate diplomat.”

Aspirants have to be careful not to voice views that could come back to haunt them. For example, advocacy on behalf of LGBT rights, a favored U.N. cause, could doom a candidate in some African or Asian countries where homosexuality is still illegal.

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