HL A man for all nations
Credit: THE EDMONTON JOURNAL
SO THE EDMONTON JOURNAL (EDMJ)
Section: EDITORIAL OPED
LP --- A man for all nations ---
TX A francophone Arab diplomat might not have been every country"s first choice for the leadership of the United Nations, but there is good reason to expect much from the man nominated to be secretary general. Boutros Boutros Ghali, the 69-year-old deputy prime minister of Egypt, is more an accomplished diplomat than a flamboyant politician. But his diplomacy has been forged in one of the world"s trickiest settings, the Middle East. As the secretary general who is to lead the United Nations in a world where old patterns and alliances are being reshaped with breathtaking speed, Boutros Ghali will have his challenges cut out for him. It is said of the current secretary general, Javier Perez de Cuellar that he wouldn"t make a splash if you tossed him in the water. His successor will be called upon to make quite a splash if the UN is to become the effective world parliament its founders intended. It probably does not hurt that Boutros Ghali feels he was "born" for the job, nor that he expresses a vigorous belief that the UN has a significant role to play in the new world order. What he lacks - and this is a quality some say the UN needs - is the high political profile of a seasoned international leader who could command instant recognition. On the other hand, none of the candidates for the post really had such stature. And it would be difficult to imagine another candidate who fit so well all the conditions set out by UN members. There was first of all the push to ensure than an African would become secretary general - geography was on Boutros Ghali"s side, derailing the candidacy of the equally-cosmopolitan Prince * Sadruddin Aga Khan. Other interests wanted a secretary general at home in western culture, one who understood the developing world, someone who spoke French and English well, and someone with a proven track record of diplomatic success. Boutros Ghali fills all those descriptions. As a Christian married to a Jew in a predominantly Muslim country, he is in a singular position when it comes to brokering quarrels in the Middle East. If the UN is ultimately to broker a peace, he is the best secretary general for the job. He was Anwar Sadat"s key minister when the late Egyptian president made peace with Israel. He has a record of creativity in seeking ways out of thorny diplomatic problems. That should serve the UN well, in its emerging role as a respected and effective arbiter of international disputes.
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