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Secretary or General?
The UN Secretary-General in World Politics


Kofi A. Annan, Simon Chesterman, Brian E. Urquhart, Shashi Tharoor, Colin Keating, James Cockayne, David M. Malone, Teresa Whitfield, Quang Trinh, Ian Johnstone, Adekeye Adebajo, David Kennedy, James Traub, Edward C. Luck, Thomas M. Franck
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  • Date Published: April 2007
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9780521699587

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About the Authors
  • The Secretary-General of the United Nations is a unique figure in world politics. At once civil servant, 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 this unique office with particular emphasis on how it has evolved in response to changing circumstances such as globalization and the onset of the 'war on terror'. The difficulties experienced by each Secretary-General reflect the profound ambivalence of states towards entrusting their security, interests or resources to an intergovernmental body.

    • Contributions from a key group of former diplomats, UN officials and academics including people who have worked closely with the Secretary-General brings key insights into the theory and practice of the United Nations
    • Expands on different aspects of the Secretary-General's role allowing both depth of analysis and some real world policy prescriptions
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    Reviews & endorsements

    'This is a timely book on an exceedingly important subject at the current juncture in world affairs: the role of the UN Secretary-General, the personification of 'the international community'. It offers significant insights from scholars and practitioners alike, and will be required reading for Kofi Annan's successor.' John G. Ruggie, Kirkpatrick Professor of International Affairs, Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University

    'The authority and responsibilities of the Secretary-General need to be better understood - the basis of any fair standard of accountability. This book shows that the issue is both complex and sensitive. It should be a useful reference tool for anyone interested in the future of the United Nations.' Louise Fréchette, Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations 1998–2006

    'A wide-ranging and insightful portrait of the most impossible job on the planet. The office of Secretary-General - designed by the UN's founders to be half-'secretary', half-'general' - receives here the careful assessment by both insiders and outsiders for which the importance of the position has long called.' Michael Doyle, Harold Brown Professor at Columbia University and co-author of Making War and Building Peace

    'Books about the United Nations are all too often written in a prose as dense as the UN management structure. This book is a refreshing change! Of particular value are the chapters on the ways in which the Secretary-General himself (or herself) can help crystallize norms and mobilize coalitions - not against member state interests but alongside them. In this role the Secretary-General serves as both secretary and general, secretary to the global public and general of a process to make the voices of that public more clearly heard.' Anne-Marie Slaughter, Dean of the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Princeton University

    'The position of Secretary-General is a job like no other. The person requires the skills of a general, yet the humility to serve as a secretary. Whether dealing with disasters that are natural or man-made, the Secretary-General is expected to conduct the world orchestra of nations. As a long-time participant and observer at the United Nations, I can say that this book is most timely, and much needed.' José Ramos-Horta, Prime Minister of the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste

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    Product details

    • Date Published: April 2007
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9780521699587
    • length: 296 pages
    • dimensions: 228 x 160 x 15 mm
    • weight: 0.44kg
    • contains: 4 tables
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    Foreword Kofi A. Annan
    Introduction Simon Chesterman
    Part I. Defining and Refining the Job Description:
    1. The evolution of the Secretary-General Brian E. Urquhart
    2. 'The most impossible job' description Shashi Tharoor
    3. Selecting the world's diplomat Colin Keating
    Part II. Maintaining Peace and Security:
    4. Relations with the Security Council James Cockayne and David M. Malone
    5. Good offices and 'groups of friends' Teresa Whitfield
    6. The bully pulpit Quang Trinh
    Part III. Normative and Political Dilemmas:
    7. The Secretary-General as norm entrepreneur Ian Johnstone
    8. Pope, pharaoh, or prophet? The Secretary-General after the Cold War Adekeye Adebajo
    9. Leader, clerk, or policy entrepreneur? The Secretary-General in a complex world David Kennedy
    Part IV. Independence and the Future:
    10. The Secretary-General's political space James Traub
    11. The Secretary-General in a unipolar world Edward C. Luck
    12. Resolving the contradictions of the office Simon Chesterman and Thomas M. Franck

  • Editor

    Simon Chesterman, New York University School of Law
    Simon Chesterman is Global Professor and Director of the New York University School of Law Singapore Programme, and an Associate Professor of Law at the National University of Singapore Faculty of Law. From 2004 to 2006 he was Executive Director of NYU's Institute for International Law and Justice. Educated in Melbourne, Beijing, Amsterdam, and Oxford, Chesterman's teaching experience includes periods at the Universities of Melbourne, Oxford, Southampton, Columbia, and Sciences Po, as well as NYU. Prior to joining NYU, he was a Senior Associate at the International Peace Academy and Director of UN Relations at the International Crisis Group in New York. He has previously worked for the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in Belgrade and interned at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda in Arusha. Chesterman's books include Shared Secrets: Intelligence and Collective Security (Lowy Institute for International Policy, 2006); You, The People: The United Nations, Transitional Administration, and State-Building (Oxford University Press, 2004); and Just War or Just Peace? Humanitarian Intervention and International Law (Oxford University Press, 2001), which was awarded the American Society of International Law Certificate of Merit. His edited volumes include Secretary or General? The UN Secretary-General in World Politics (Cambridge University Press, 2007) and Making States Work: State Failure and the Crisis of Governance (edited with Michael Ignatieff and Ramesh Thakur, United Nations University Press, 2005). He regularly contributes to international law and political science journals, as well as mass media publications such as the International Herald Tribune.


    Kofi A. Annan


    Kofi A. Annan, Simon Chesterman, Brian E. Urquhart, Shashi Tharoor, Colin Keating, James Cockayne, David M. Malone, Teresa Whitfield, Quang Trinh, Ian Johnstone, Adekeye Adebajo, David Kennedy, James Traub, Edward C. Luck, Thomas M. Franck

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