Book Review of 'Secretary or General? The UN Secretary-General in World Politics'

American Journal of International Law, Vol. 102, p. 930, 2008

University of Missouri School of Law Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2009-12

8 Pages Posted: 18 Jun 2009  

Margaret E. McGuinness

St. John's University - School of Law

Abstract

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

Suggested Citation

McGuinness, Margaret E., Book Review of 'Secretary or General? The UN Secretary-General in World Politics'. American Journal of International Law, Vol. 102, p. 930, 2008; University of Missouri School of Law Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2009-12. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1395740

Margaret McGuinness (Contact Author)

St. John's University - School of Law ( email )

8000 Utopia Parkway
Jamaica, NY 11439
United States

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