The Future of the United Nations According to Vuk Jeremić

News | June 23, 2016

Vuk Jeremić, a leading candidate for the next secretary-general of the United Nations, shares his vision and platform for the top post.

“The United Nations is in need of robust restructuring and revitalization,” declared Vuk Jeremić at a SMART Talk event at EastWest Institute’s (EWI) New York Center on June 22.

Jeremić, former president of the UN General Assembly and Serbian Minister of Foreign Affairs, was joined by EWI CEO and President Cameron Munter in a discussion on a range of timely world affairs issues. The event was well attended including the participation of ambassadors, diplomats and members of civil society.

Jeremić candidly discussed his platform for secretary-general and the future of the UN, as well as multilateral diplomacy and conflict resolution around the globe.

Jeremić described this year’s UN secretary-general election, which will take place next month, as especially important given today’s “transformational times.” But, the UN, Jeremić said, had not necessarily kept up with the fast-moving pace of current events.

To resolve this issue, Jeremić released the first printed platform in the history of the UN secretary-general election.

Change and pragmatism were both key themes in Jeremić’s suggestions.

Jeremić proposed several internal transparency measures including protection of whistleblowers, public disclosure of under-secretary-generals’ financial records and establishment of an independent financial oversight office.

Understanding sustainable development and the implications of climate change, Jeremić said, was  crucial for the next secretary-general who would have to ensure a full and proper implementation of the Paris Climate Agreement. The agreement was signed on April 22, 2016.

Jeremić also acknowledged the impact of the changing world order on the UN’s role in conflict resolution. The U.S.-China relationship, he stated, is perhaps the most important one of this century. Thus, he urged geopolitical stakeholders in the South China Sea conflict to use a delicate hand toward seeking and maintaining a resolution. He also cited India’s fast-growing economy, population and international presence as proof that India is vital to the future of the UN.

Citing the UN’s failure to handily resolve the Syrian refugee crisis, Jeremić proposed five-year peace-stabilizing—as opposed to simply peacekeeping—missions in the Middle East. He also proposed more robust anti-terrorism measures.

As the discussion drew to a close, Jeremic also took on the question of gender parity within the UN. He described this secretary-general election as a “watershed moment” for UN women. If elected, would commit to full gender parity within the world body by making sure there were 44 female under-secretary-generals and 44 male under-secretary-generals.

Will Jeremić be the next UN secretary-general? Only time will tell.

“They [the members of the General Assembly] know what I stand for,” he said. “They have the voting rights.”

Click here to read an event write up on TANJUG (in Serbian).