- The Washington Times - Sunday, October 1, 2006

Sri Lankan drops out

Sri Lanka’s government has gracefully withdrawn the candidacy of Jayantha Dhanapala to succeed Kofi Annan as secretary-general of the United Nations.

Mr. Dhanapala, a polished diplomat with a background in disarmament and conflict resolution, had lost ground in each of the past informal polls of the Security Council and finally was grounded on the shoals with just three votes.

“Following the results of the third ‘straw poll’ in the election of the Secretary-General conducted by the members of the Security Council on Thursday, 28 September, 2006, the Government of Sri Lanka — with the total agreement of its candidate — has now decided not to further pursue the candidature of Ambassador Jayantha Dhanapala in the interest of ensuring a consensus in electing an Asian candidate,” the Sri Lankan mission said in a statement circulated Friday.

The government also announced it would give its official support to Ban Ki-moon, the South Korean foreign minister and front-runner. It could have shifted its endorsement a few degrees north to Shashi Tharoor of India, especially after Mr. Dhanapala complained this weekend that he felt a lack of South Asian unity.

Mr. Dhanapala’s campaign never ignited with the council members, and his withdrawal could clear the way for other marginal candidates to bow out before today’s poll, which will show the attitudes of the permanent, veto-holding members.

There are now six candidates in the race, which council members hope to wrap up in the next few weeks.

U.N. disburses donations

The Democracy Fund, a U.S.-proposed creation of the United Nations, has awarded $36 million to nongovernmental organizations, peace activists and U.N. agencies in its first round of donations.

The group funded 125 proposals out of 1,300 submissions, including an Afghan project to promote women’s rights under Islam; media training to uncover corruption in Armenia; building a national news service in Iraq; a Bangkok-based training program for young leaders in Southeast Asia; protecting and training human rights advocates; assistance for countries to comply with anti-corruption conventions; separate efforts to enhance the political role of women in Haiti, Guatemala, Guinea Bissau, India, Indonesia, Kosovo, Morocco, Nepal, Nigeria and other countries; strengthening the rights of Arabs and other minorities in Israel; and efforts to create or improve government transparency and accountability around the world.

President Bush suggested creating the fund during his speech to the U.N. General Assembly two years ago, and U.N. Secretary-General Kofi formally announced its establishment during a meeting of the African Union on July 4, 2005. Congress came up with $10 million in seed money, and by summer, had committed a total of $18 million. The United States remains the largest single contributor.

The trust fund, which functions on voluntary contributions, is part of Mr. Bush’s “freedom agenda” and supported by like-minded nations.

India and, more recently, Qatar have given $10 million each; Australia gave $7.5 million. Last month, the South Korean government, represented by Foreign Minister Ban Ki-moon, contributed $1 million at a meeting on the sidelines of the General Assembly.

“Now we need to go about replenishing the fund,” said Mark Lagon, deputy assistant secretary of state for international organization affairs, who was instrumental in setting up the group. In a recent interview, Mr. Lagon said the fund can leverage relatively small grants into success on the ground.

The winning proposals were selected by the Democracy Fund’s 15 principal members — regional representatives and big donors — and approved by Mr. Annan.

Betsy Pisik can be reached by e-mail at bpisik@washingtontimes.com.

LOAD COMMENTS ()

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide