Book Review of 'Secretary or General? The UN Secretary-General in World Politics'
American Journal of International Law, Vol. 102, p. 930, 2008
8 Pages Posted: 18 Jun 2009
This essay is a review of the collected essays, Secretary or General? The UN Secretary-General in World Politics, edited by New York University Professor Simon Chesterman. The question posed by the title turns out to be rhetorical. As the contributions reveal, a successful UN secretary-general need not be an extraordinary bureaucrat or military genius, but must possess keen political instincts. Like an acrobat performing a high-wire act, the secretary-general must carefully balance a unique political independence - untethered to the interests of one sovereign state - against a required institutional and political interdependence with the Security Council and the UN member states. The book’s central project, reflected as a common theme running through the contributed essays, is this understanding of the secretary-general as a global homo politicus.
Keywords: UN Secretary-General, Simon Chesterman, secretary-general, security council, UN, United Nations, homo politicus
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