Secretary or General? The UN Secretary-General in World Politics (Introduction)
SECRETARY OR GENERAL? THE UN SECRETARY-GENERAL IN WORLD POLITICS, Simon Chesterman, ed., Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007
11 Pages Posted: 10 Mar 2007
The Secretary-General of the United Nations is a unique figure in world politics. At once civil servant and the world's diplomat, lackey of the UN Security Council and commander-in-chief of up to a hundred thousand peacekeepers, he or she depends on states for both the legitimacy and resources that enable the United Nations to function. The tension between these roles - of being secretary or general - has challenged every incumbent.
This book brings together the insights of senior UN staff, diplomats, and scholars to examine the normative and political factors that shape the role of the Secretary-General, with particular emphasis on how that role has evolved in response to changing circumstances after the end of the Cold War and the beginning of the "war on terror". Such geopolitical transformations define the contours of the Secretary-General's universe - a universe shaped also by the economic forces of globalization, and increasingly by tensions between the industrialized North and the developing South. Across these various influences, the difficulties experienced by each Secretary-General reflect the profound ambivalence of states towards entrusting their security, interests, or resources to an intergovernmental body. The ambiguities in the job description are far from accidental.
Keywords: United Nations, Secretary-General, Kofi Annan, Ban Ki-moon
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