Miriam Leitao at PostGlobal

Miriam Leitao

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Miriam Leitao is a reporter and columnist for O Globo and Radio CBN in Brazil. She is also a commentator on Globo TV Network and runs her own blog, www.miriamleitao.com, hosted at Globo online at www.oglobo.com.br. She was awarded Columbia University’s Maria Moors Cabot Prize in 2005. Close.

Miriam Leitao

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Miriam Leitao is a reporter and columnist for O Globo and Radio CBN in Brazil. more »

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Fight for Principles

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Dear Mr. Ban-Ki-moon

I do not want to be impolite, but after my congratulations and best wishes for your tenure, I feel compelled to say upfront that you are not doing very well in your new job. I know, you have just begun, but let us look on what you have already done so far.

The person who leads the United Nations is committed to strongly condemn executions in general. I know, I know, Saddam Hussein was a barbarian, but the majority of the state members are against the death penalty on principle and the execution seemed to be more a revenge of a rival group than the result of due process of law.

You have been chosen to establish better management practices in the United Nations. Reforms are needed. The UN spends too much. It has to adopt good methods of management, just out of respect to the global taxpayers who support the expensive institution. To achieve this goal, it is necessary to choose people with managerial experience for key positions. Expert opinion in the press says you have been appointing the right people, but for the wrong positions.

Efficiency-driven management is important to all sorts of institutions, but the United Nations is far more than a corporation. The UN is the most important institution created by humankind, meant to fight for the values and principles that supposedly make us civilized. These principles mean more than being a good CEO. The world needs the UN leadership more than ever to solve the mess in Iraq, to avoid a nuclear conflict in North Korea and in the Middle East, to help Africans in their many conflicts and to avoid climate change. The planet, our single home, requires more than the UN has done so far to protect it. Future generations will appreciate it if you adopt a larger vision to steer this agenda, facing the big powers that support economic interests over global "homeland security", clean air and water. Some of your earlier statements were too bureaucratic for a world leader, if you know what I mean.

Turning to reforms, the most important is the balancing, or democratization of power. The big powers reflect the world as it used to be decades ago. The Security Council has to become more representative of UN's global constituency. Brazil is a candidate to a permanent seat in the Security Council, as are Japan, India, and Germany. What countries will be chosen is a less important than simply enlarging representation. The UN's structure should express the global will, not a hegemonic one. There are 50 African countries, 33 Latin American countries and several other Asian ones who are voiceless in this old-fashioned Council.

Please, do not forget, Mr. Ki-moon, that the organization you run belongs to the world, not to the United States. You should help realize our common dreams, about a peaceful and safe planet for our children. Is this too naïve or too utopian? An institution that assembles the ethnic, religious, cultural and linguistic diversity of the world is already a dream. The UN was born at the aftermath of a World War in order to believe in utopias.

Best regards.

Miriam Leitao

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