Jordan's UN Ambassador, Prince Zeid Ra'ad Zeid Al-Hussein, announced his candidacy for the top United Nations post on Tuesday, becoming the fifth candidate and the first Muslim to enter the race to succeed Secretary-General Kofi Annan whose term ends at the end of this year.
The Jordanian government sent a letter to the president of the UN Security Council, formally submitting Zeid's candidacy. A letter was also sent to General Assembly President Jan Eliasson.
Born in Amman, and educated in Jordan, Britain and the United States, Zeid, 42, has held the post as Jordan's permanent representative to the United Nation since August 2000.
He served as a UN peacekeeper in the former Yugoslavia from February 1994 to February 1996. A biographical note released by the Jordanian mission to the United Nations says he has "extensive" knowledge of UN peacekeeping affairs after "having worked intimately with peacekeeping issues for over the past decade."
An expert in the field of international justice, he played a central role in the establishment of the International Criminal Court and was elected the first president of its governing body in September 2000. Zeid currently chairs the Consultative Committee for the United Nations Development Fund for Women.
In a statement on his vision for the future of the world body, Zeid called for "a genuine renewal to make it a 21st century agent for change and progress."
"The UN's recent centrality to resolving conflicts and alleviating suffering around the world should serve - not as cause for complacency - but as a spur to deeper change as its looks to new leadership at the end of this year," said the statement.
The UN Security Council had been accused of inaction in face of a month-long conflict between Israel and Hezbollah in Lebanon which run through mid-July to mid-August. The council passed resolution 1701 on Aug. 11 to seek an end to the 34-day conflict.
The other four announced candidates so far are all Asians, including Thai Deputy Prime Minister Surakiart Sathirathai, former UN disarmament chief and government adviser Jayantha Dhanapala of Sri Lanka, South Korean Foreign Minister Ban Ki-moon and UN Undersecretary-General for Communications and Public Information Shashi Tharoor, an Indian.
The last Asian to hold the UN post was U Thant of Myanmar, who served in 1961-71. It widely expected that the next UN secretary-general should come from Asia as part of a traditional rotation among regions. Jordan is a member of the Asian group at the United Nations.
Annan, a Ghanaian who has held the position since 1997, has said that most nations believe his successor should come from Asia. Annan is the seventh secretary-general in the 61-year-history of the United Nations.
The UN Charter stipulates that the secretary-general is appointed "by the General Assembly upon the recommendation of the Security Council." To win final approval, a candidate must receive nine votes of the 15 council members, including every vote of the veto-wielding five permanent members, namely China, France, Russia, Britain and the United States.
The council held a straw poll for the next secretary-general in late July, in which the members were asked whether they encouraged, discouraged or had no opinion about the four candidates at the time. Ban topped the poll with 12 encouragements, compared with 10 for Shashi Tharoor who came second.
(Xinhua News Agency September 6, 2006)