Red tape ploy could save UN chief

Boutros Boutros-Ghali, whose hopes for a second term as Secretary- General of the United Nations have been all but crushed by the threat of an American veto, could yet be saved by a procedural precedent that was engineered - and herein lies the potential for rare irony - by Washington itself.

The scenario, if it were played out, it could render extraordinary damage to the UN at a time when it is already in frail health. But as Mr Boutros- Ghali tours world capitals looking for support to defy the United States - he is currently in London - it is increasingly being discussed in the corridors of UN headquarters in New York.

What diplomats are pondering is the possibility of replay of events in 1950 when the Soviet Union resolutely opposed the re-election for a second term of the UN's first Secretary-General, Trygve Lie, because of his stand against the Communist invasion of South Korea. The Security Council, which under the UN Charter must recommend a Secretary-General to the full General Assembly, became deadlocked after Moscow blocked Mr Lie with a veto.

What followed was on the urging of Washington, even though it was in clear contravention of the Charter. In a rushed vote, the General Assembly approved the re-appointment of the Norwegian by a large majority. Mr Lie resumed his duties in January 1951. Moscow and the Communist governments refused to recognise him, however, and he resigned in 1953.

Mr Boutros-Ghali, who met the Prime Minister, John Major, last night before holding talks this morning with the Foreign Secretary, Malcolm Rifkind, appears determined to thwart the American decision to oust him. With little chance of Washington changing its mind, the Trygve Lie formula appears to be his only route to salvation.

"He might just try and do it," one ambassador to the UN privately conceded yesterday. "Buthe must know that a fight like that could cause the most appalling damage to the institution."

Indeed, the diplomatic fall-out from such a manoeuvre would seem almost inconceivable. It could lead to an American boycott of the sitting Secretary- General of the UN which, in turn, would virtually guarantee a complete shut-off of further US funding for the organisation. "You must remember that 1950 was a different era," the ambassador said.

Economic considerations aside, however, there is a deep well of anti- American sentiment in the UN, particularly among developing countries, that makes re-enacting the 1950 script more believable. There is outrage over the perceived arrogance of Washington in seeking to block Mr Boutros- Ghali at a time when the US is mostly responsible for the UN's parlous financial state. Nor is it forgotten that it was Washington that orchestrated the precedent that prolonged Trygve Lie's tenure.

Mr Boutros-Ghali, meanwhile, is giving the impression of striving to amass support on his side. He was endorsed for a second term by last week's Arab summit in Cairo and is expected to be given a warm reception at the summit of the Organisation of African Unity in Cameroon next month. France has expressed surprise at Washington's antipathy towards him.

So far the British Government has declined to take a stance but few expect that it will attempt to stand in President Bill Clinton's way.

News
peopleFrankie Boyle responds to referendum result in characteristically offensive style
Sport
Lewis Hamilton will start the Singapore Grand Prix from pole, with Nico Rosberg second and Daniel Ricciardo third
F1... for floodlit Singapore Grand Prix
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvHe is only remaining member of original cast
Arts and Entertainment
tvHighs and lows of the cast's careers since 2004
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Sport
Gabriel Agbonlahor, Alexis Sanchez, Alan Pardew and Graziano Pelle
footballAfter QPR draw, follow Villa vs Arsenal, Newcastle vs Hull and Swansea vs Southampton
News
news
New Articles
i100
Life and Style
Couples have been having sex less in 2014, according to a new survey
life
Arts and Entertainment
musicBiographer Hunter Davies has collected nearly a hundred original manuscripts
New Articles
i100... with this review
Voices
Holly's review of Peterborough's Pizza Express quickly went viral on social media
New Articles
i100
Arts and Entertainment
musicHow female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Cover Supervisor

£75 - £90 per day + negotiable: Randstad Education Group: Are you a cover supe...

Marketing Manager - Leicestershire - £35,000

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager (CIM, B2B, MS Offi...

Marketing Executive (B2B and B2C) - Rugby, Warwickshire

£22000 - £25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A highly successful organisation wit...

SEN Coordinator + Teacher (SENCO)

£1 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Job Purpose To work closely with the he...

Day In a Page

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam