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Bridging the Gender Gap at the United Nations

Natalia Gherman
Natalia Gherman
Natalia Gherman

For the first time in the history of the united nations, the international community has been presented with nine official candidates vying for the position of the next U.N. secretary-general. They have  show cased their vision for the global body and answer hot topic questions presented by member state representatives and civil society actor, an exercise never before asked of candidates in a usually closed-door process.

The presence of four women among the eight contenders is another breath of fresh air for the global organization that employs 40,000-plus staff with a budget of $10 billion. The UN has had eight secretary-generals since it was founded in 1945, all of them men. This year’s female candidates include a former prime minister and three former foreign ministers. The informal practice of regional rotation explains why three of them hail from Eastern Europe, which has never before supplied a UN secretary-general.

During an event at the London School of Economics, that Majalla covered, the former deputy prime minister of Moldova, Natalia Gherman, one of the candidates is banking on partnerships to get the job done at the United Nations.

Gherman emphasized the importance of the U.N. engaging with regional organizations for maintenance of peace and security, for example working with relevant stakeholders in delivering on the promises of several global frameworks such as the 2030 agenda, the climate agreement in Paris.

The U.N. secretary-general candidate is also looking to advance partnerships with member states when it comes to pushing for human rights reforms and policies at the national level. But  also to be a credible proponent of universal human rights, the U.N. should abide by the principle of nondiscrimination on the basis of gender, race, religion or culture in administrative decisions, as well as in its operations.

“Internally, the U.N. secretary-general should implement a zero tolerance policy on mismanagement, fraud, abuse, corruption and unethical behavior”, she stressed, and senior managers “should be selected on basis of merit and expertise, but also ensuring gender and geographical balance”.

She claims that “the job of the next secretary general is rewarding and challenging, the emergence of new actors and violence defies humanitarian principles, as our  challenges  become more  global in nature, requiring the United Nations and its Secretariat to continuously refine their tools of engagement and response. The emergence of new actors and  of international terrorism have changed traditional perceptions of what constitutes a threat to international peace and security.

If chosen as the next secretary general then “peace keeping activity” will be on top of her agenda,  she said that “there has been unacceptable cases of killing of civilians, zero tolerance policy has to be applied, member states should take more responsibility to ensure that human rights diligence is taken into place”.

She stressed that “no nation alone is capable of defeating such threats of global reach. only through strong cooperation and coordinated response would we be able to succeed”, she added “we will have to focus on how to combine and collect a positive response to overcome the risk and challenges”.

She said that the world is faced today with a humanitarian crisis unseen since the end of the second world war. “It is global in nature, challenging populations and governments in Africa, Europe and Asia”, she stated that “over 60 million people have been forced from their homes due to conflict and violence”.

Gherman said “we need to look at the roots of the conflict to find a solution, with a clear strategy to what needs to be done on the global regional and domestic level to stop it from increasing”.

Issue of financing terrorism is also important, “drug trafficking, remains to be high on the agenda of the UN”, she pledged  that she will ensure that “coherent interaction between UN and other agencies  will be able to response to conflicts”.

On the other hand, she stressed the need for solidarity and said “solidarity had a special meaning for Eastern Europe s, the end of the Cold War triggered a revolutionary transformation and made us who we are today”, she stressed that “rich countries needs to help developed countries, assisting them with addition resources expertise and financial help”.

Other factors that are on top of her list, are engagement with civil societies to help eradicate poverty, empowerment of women, help combat climate change it will crucial, she is also in favor of private sector partnership and global media. She said that global media will “help us to raise awareness of grassroots movements and the media ensures that no voice is left unheard”.

Gherman stressed the importance of the “Human rights charters, these are important documents that will define the responsibility of the Secretary General, to ensure that it is a task to engage with member states to ensure assistance if provided for those that are in need”. Human dignity is one of the main jobs of the UN secretary General, “they have a responsibility to protect”.

She ended her speech by stating that the next Secretary general should work closely with other member states should inspire and encourage new approaches to addressing the various challenges that the world is witnessing.

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Mina Al-Droubi

Mina Al-Droubi is a researcher and contributor to The Majalla. Mina, an Iraqi–British journalist, graduated in International Politics from City University and received her master’s degree in Middle East Politics from the School of Oriental and African Studies, London.

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