Argentine foreign minister Susana Malcorra visited Cairo courting Egyptian support for her bid to become the next UN secretary-general, following on from her visit to Angola earlier in the week. The minister also met with secretary-general of the Arab League, Ahmed Aboul Gheit. However the emergent frontrunner to succeed Ban Kimoon is ex Portuguese prime minister is Antonio Guterres.
Egypt and Angola are currently members of the UN Security Council, which must formally nominate a consensus candidate for the General Assembly to approve.
Malcorra said that the primary objective of her visit to Egypt was to seek Cairo’s support for her candidacy, and described the meeting with her peer Sameh Shoukry “very fruitful.”
The Argentine minister placed third in the second straw poll of United Nations Security Council (UNSC) member states in early August continued to face stern competition from better placed male candidates.
Malcorra, who served as Ban’s cabinet chief at the UN, jumped five places from the previous straw poll of UNSC members in the latest poll, winning eight “encourage” votes. In the poll she placed behind both former Serbian foreign minister Vuk Jeremic and the emergent frontrunner to succeed Ban, former Portuguese Prime Minister António Guterres.
However Malcorra’s fortunes received a boost after Montenegro’s Foreign Minister Igor Luksic withdrew from the race, leaving 10 candidates in the field. Luksic came in last in the second informal poll which was topped by Guterres.
The next “straw” poll is scheduled to take place on August 29. Ban’s second five-year term ends on December 31.
According to the UN Charter, the secretary-general is chosen by the General Assembly on the recommendation of the Security Council. In practice, this has meant that the council’s five permanent members — the US, Russia, China, Britain and France — have veto power over the candidates.
By tradition, the job has rotated among regions. Asia, Africa, Latin America and Europe have all had representatives who held the world’s top diplomatic post. East European nations, including Russia, argue that they have never had a secretary-general and it is their turn.
There has also never been a woman secretary-general and a group of 56 nations are campaigning for the first female UN chief.
In the last few months Malcorra has met with representatives from every permanent member of the Security Council and is steadily meeting with the non-permanent members. Prior to the trip to Egypt, she was in Angola for consultations with her counterpart Georges Chikoti and Vice-President Manuel Vicente.
Of the 10 non-permanent members on the Security Council, Malcorra has welcomed, visited, or has had conversations with all but three: Senegal, Malaysia and Ukraine.
Venezuela is also on the Council this year and Malcorra, along with her peers in the Mercosur, has been trying to find a solution to the ongoing tensions over the rotating chair of the Mercosur. As part of that conflict, Caracas has expressed concerns about her bid to lead the UN.