United Nations

Bulgaria’s Kristalina Georgieva launches late bid to replace Ban Ki-moon as UN secretary general

Georgieva, who would be the first woman to be UN chief, came into the fray after the Bulgarian government withdrew its support for Unesco chief Irina Bokova

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 04 October, 2016, 12:32pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 04 October, 2016, 9:56pm

Making her pitch to lead the United Nations, EU budget commissioner Kristalina Georgieva pledged on Monday to be a voice of goodness at a time when “hate is very loud” in all corners of the world.

The Bulgarian economist and former World Bank vice-president appeared before the UN General Assembly, fielding questions during two hours on everything from the war in Syria to the refugee crisis and climate change.

“Our problem in the world today is that goodness is quiet. Hate is very loud. You can hear it everywhere,” Georgieva told a packed UN hall. “Should I be selected to be secretary-general, my job would be to amplify the voice of goodness.”

The 63-year-old entered the race to be the next UN secretary-general just last week, and is now facing off against nine other candidates who have been campaigning for months.

Our problem in the world today is that goodness is quiet. Hate is very loud. You can hear it everywhere
EU budget commissioner Kristalina Georgieva

The front runner to succeed Ban Ki-moon is Portugal’s former prime minister Antonio Guterres, who took the No.1 spot in all five straw polls held by the Security Council.

Georgieva, who would be the first woman to be UN chief, came into the fray after the Bulgarian government withdrew its support for Unesco chief Irina Bokova after she failed to make a strong showing in the polls.

During the hearing in which she also made remarks in French and Russian, Georgieva touted her experience at the World Bank and the European Commission and stressed that she was results-driven.

On Syria, now in its sixth year of war, Georgieva said the raging conflict showed the importance of conflict prevention.

“We failed to see the warning signs of how bad it was going to be,” she said.

Addressing the refugee crisis is “not only morally right but in all our interests,” she said.

Perhaps her harshest words directed at the United Nations were over the cholera outbreak in Haiti, saying the world body had been “dragging its feet” to recognise the problem caused by peacekeepers.

The poor handling caused “unnecessary suffering and loss of life”, Georgieva said, but she paid tribute to Ban for taking steps to correct the situation with a new multimillion-dollar fund to help the victims.

On Wednesday, the contest to be UN chief will head into new territory when the five permanent Security Council members – Britain, France, China, Russia and the United States – will use coloured ballots in the straw poll.

That will indicate to the candidates whether they face a veto if the council moves to a formal vote, which could happen in the coming weeks. The new secretary-general is to begin work on January 1.

 

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