New to following this blog - so no offence intended - but this sort of ‘analytical’ insight demonstrates exactly why I’m conducting my PhD research on effective executive leadership in international organisation. I’m still rather poorly, so not exactly sure how to best tackle the issues presented below; bear with me.
The first underlying problem with what’s written below is a belief in the former Secretary-General’s agency, especially now when Mr. Annan is not head of the United Nations. The comparison is something similar to former President Jimmy Carter asking then-President George W Bush to NOT invade Iraq. What agency/legitimacy does Mr. Annan have to stand on to ask Assad to stop shelling? Mr. Annan’s agency is legitimated, or self-derived, from his foundation and historical precedence as a peace-keeping and top tier diplomat. This agency does NOT directly translate into immediate action. Diplomacy is a slow, laborious process, and in authoring such a letter, one has to understand that Mr. Annan’s agency, being self-derived, is also shaped by the operations of the United Nations.
The second is the assumption that, as I word it in my thesis, Mr. Annan ‘matters’ - presuming effectiveness (with or without the formal institution of the UN). Assuming Mr. Annan matters when Assad cast out the recommendations of the Arab League, an organisation much more closely tied to Syria than the United Nations. So I’d question this assertion that Mr. Annan ‘matters’ to Assad.
Third - history matters. For everything Mr. Annan stands for, this is still a man who was unable to prevent the US-UK 2003 invasion of Iraq, which was deemed in the United Nations as illegal. So historical precedence tells us that even if a nation is committing an illegal activity, Mr. Annan, due to his position as the (former) executive head of the UN, can do little about it. What this really speaks to is our common belief in the legitimate functioning of international organisation but the reality of realism (statism, survival, and self help of states above any other form of organisation/cooperation).
Fourth, is this letter really arguing that Mr. Annan doesn’t understand that Assad commits such crimes against ‘his people’? Surely, they can’t be that naive? Mr. Annan knows… he understands. I very much doubt he went on a peace-keeping mission to Syria, meeting WITH Assad, without knowing the scope of atrocities on the ground. When dealing with diplomats, diplomats with LITTLE formal authority (and power), … what exactly do we expect? Did we really expect Mr. Annan to show up in Syria, without UNMP, after the Arab League, and get into his superhero costume and save the day?
…so I guess that last sentence completely sums up why I am doing the research I currently am. With global problems such as Syria (in this case), 1 billion hungry, privatisation of water, and climate change, how much ‘effective leadership’ do we really expect of these heads of international organisations?
*thanks to the original poster for giving me the energy to blog - been poorly for almost a week now; there’s so little on tumblr that engages my research*
… I know you care about the situation in Syria and you are really trying your best but … I don’t think you have the slightest idea of the kind of regime and leadership you are dealing with. Hint: they issue orders for snipers to shoot unarmed people walking on the street and then shoot the people…