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Through his last few years in office, Kofi Annan found himself weathering an almost constant storm of controversy. Following his "annus horribilis" (1) of 2004, things scarcely improved, with the reputation of the Secretariat being severely damaged by the investigations into the Oil-for-Food scandal, continuing contestation over organizational reform, and the appointment of the notoriously anti-UN John R. Bolton as the US ambassador to the UN. Of course, this was not the first time that the holder of the office has become embattled, and indeed Annan's secretary-generalship came about as a direct result of his predecessor Boutros Boutros-Ghali's reelection being blocked by the United States. Boutros-Ghali himself attributes this to the fact that his "activism, once encouraged and praised, had become an annoyance to the [Clinton] administration." (2) Secretary-General Boutros-Ghali's time in office (1992-1996) neatly encapsulates one of the tensions with which all secretaries-general have had to contend: balancing the desire to actively pursue the purposes and principles of the UN as set out in its Charter with the need to maintain the confidence and support of the member states. The early days of Boutros-Ghali's time in office followed the ending of the Cold War and coincided with a new optimism that the organization might be able to break free from the constraints of interbloc rivalry and that it might at last be possible to move toward the realization of the UN's founding objectives. It was also a period in which a new wave of democratization was sweeping the world, not least in those states that had either directly or indirectly come under the influence of the Soviet Union prior to its collapse. Boutros-Ghali himself noted, "The key theme of my term as secretary-general was democratization." (3) This reflects not only the events that were taking place in eastern Europe and Latin America, particularly during the early 1990s, but also his own desire to use his office to drive forward a democratization agenda.

Politiek en nieuws
1 januari
Lynne Rienner Publishers

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