vesna pusić.jpg
Photograph: HINA/ Tanjug/ Tanja VALIČ/ ik

Croatia's candidate for UN Secretary-General, Vesna Pusic, was interviewed at the United Nations in New York on Wednesday.

The former Croatian foreign minister is one of eight candidates for the successor to Ban Ki-Moon, whose term expires at the end of the year.

The successful candidate could be made known in September.

Apart from Pusic, also running for the post of UN Secretary-General are former New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark, Bulgarian Irina Bokova, current Director-General of UNESCO, former Moldova Foreign Minister Natalia Gherman, former Slovenian President Danilo Turk, former UN High Commissioner for Refugees and former Portuguese Prime Minister Antonio Gueterres, former Macedonian Foreign Minister Srdjan Kerim and former Montenegrin Foreign Minister Igor Luksic.

Pusic attended an informal, two-hour interview on Wednesday with members of the General Assembly and the Security Council.

She said that she comes from Croatia, a country that in 25 years passed from war to stable peace, from international isolation to being a member of the European Union, from being a recipient of aid to a provider of development assistance.

That experience made us modest and taught us not to look upon other countries with arrogance, said Croatia's Deputy Parliament Speaker.

Pusic said that if she was selected, she would simplify the UN's decision making and reporting model, persist in resolving global conflicts through negotiations, mobilise as many countries as possible to join development assistance programmes and insist on strengthening human rights globally.

She also spoke about the accomplishment of the UN's development objectives and the reform of the UN Security Council, and advocated a more balanced representation of regions and genders in UN bodies, the struggle against climate change and protection of journalists.

The Secretary-General has to be a leader, not an administrator, the former activist and university professor and incumbent Croatian People's Party leader underscored, noting that she believed her experience of working in various types of organisations requiring different skills would help her in the position of Secretary-General.

According to an unwritten rule of rotation, the next Secretary-General should come from eastern Europe and the feeling is that for the first time this should be a woman.

Some of the questions put to Pusic referred to the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia in The Hague and Pusic said that in its work there had been many problems and frustrating rulings and that the court had not always been non-political.

Despite that, I think that it has fulfilled its role in deterring and preventing crimes, she underscored.

She supported the concept of two states as a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, but added that the main problem was that it had not been implemented.

The two-state solution has been paralysed due to the situation on the ground. That topic should be kept high on the agenda otherwise the entire Middle East, southern Europe and northern Africa could become destabilised, said Pusic.

She condemned the sexual abuse of children committed by UN peacekeepers in the Central African Republic.

There is nothing worse than when you expect help from someone yet you become a victim of their abuse. We have to make service in peace missions honourable again, she underscored.

This is the first time in the history of the UN that during their interview in New York candidates for the post of Secretary-General have to defend their candidacy before the General Assembly.

For decades the selection was conducted behind closed doors between five super powers, permanent members of the Security Council - the USA, Russia, Great Britain, China and France.

This time the General Assembly asked that the process be open, at least formally, although the five permanent members of the Security Council have the final say.

The selection process will most likely begin in July with fifteen member states of the Security Council taking a secret ballot in several rounds.

The Security Council will make its recommendation of just one name to the General Assembly in September to confirm the selection.

The change in office comes at a time when the UN is faced with the gravest refugee crisis in its history and with wars in Syria, Yemen and South Sudan.

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