April 8, 2006Foreign Affairs

The next UN Secretary-General’s nationality is irrelevant

Notions of geographical or regional solidarity do not even correlate with the promotion of national interests.

This is an archived blog post from The Acorn.

Ramesh Thakur [wonders why](http://www.hindu.com/2006/04/08/stories/2006040805091100.htm South Asia should unite behind one of its own, from The Hindu”) India is not backing a promising Sri Lankan diplomat to replace Kofi Annan as UN Secretary-General later this year. Surely, he contends, regional solidarity is something.

Well, it’s not. But first let’s assume that the UN Secretary-General really matters. But a South Asian or an Asian nationality does not guarantee that he or she will be sympathetic to Indian positions. In fact, even if an Indian national were to somehow occupy that office, it is difficult to see him making a difference where India’s stakes are concerned. Apart from spoils in the UN bureaucracy — some jobs, some plum appointments, some promotions perhaps — there’s little that an Indian/South Asian/Asian Secretary-General can do for India. Notions of geographical or regional solidarity do not even correlate with the promotion of national interests. Are Africa or Ghana any better off due to Kofi Annan’s office? Certain African individuals certainly are. Kojo Annan, for example.

Gratitude does not exist in international relations, quid pro quo does. Expecting Asian governments to ignore realpolitik and back unspecified Indian foreign policy positions sometime in the future in return for New Delhi’s support for their national’s candidature now is an exercise in wishful thinking. There are few takes to be had once the gives are given. Meaningful support can only be secured by, you guessed it, realpolitik.

India should not waste its diplomatic energies over the coming international political battle over the nationality of the next UN Secretary-General. It may be more worthwhile to bother about his personal honesty.



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