Government formally launches U.N. candidacy of Christiana Figueres

The country formally nominated Christiana Figueres to join the crowded field seeking to head the United Nations. The nomination took place Thursday at a campaign-like event in the Teatro Nacional.

This year the selection of a new secretary general is supposed to be more open and transparent with official nominations by member states and appearances by the candidates before the U.N. Security Council and the General Assembly.

Ms. Figueres, well known as a workaholic and dynamo, is leaving her position as  executive secretary of U.N.’s Framework Convention on Climate Change. She is credited with negotiating a climate change agreement by U.N. member countries last December in Paris.

Also Thursday, the legislature received a draft of the country’s commitment under the climate change pact in the form of a proposed law.

The five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council, China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States, will make the nomination and submit it to the General Assembly. There is some effort to have the Security Council submit two names instead of one.

There already are eight announced candidates, all with extensive political and international diplomatic experience. More nominations are likely. Security Council countries usually do not put forth their own candidates.

The 59-year-old Ms. Figueres already has ruffled the feathers of some in capitalistic countries by saying “This is the first time in the history of mankind that we are setting ourselves the task of intentionally, within a defined period of time, to change the economic development model that has been reigning for at least 150 years, since the industrial revolution.”

Although not specifically part of the climate change agreement, a global fund is envisioned to transfer $100 billion  year to developing countries to reduce their environmental impact. The United States already donated $500 million.

President Luis Guillermo Solís attended the Teatro Nacional ceremony and symbolically signed the letter to the United Nations nominating Ms. Figueres. Also speaking was Franklin Chang Diaz, the former Costa Rican-U.S. astronaut.

The United Nations and the world need a secretary general with the ability to build bridges, who is capable of discussion and listening and prepared to help reduce differences, construct agreements and anticipate problems, said Solís. He stressed her success with the climate change agreement. Even opponents of the final agreement credit Ms. Figueres with breathing new life into climate-change negotiations.

Ms. Figueres has adopted the slogan  Sembremos esperanza, cosechemos paz, meaning sowing hope and harvesting peace. She has a Web page and a Facebook page. The effort is more like a political campaign than what in the past had been quiet diplomatic efforts.

The campaign priorities are to strengthen the United Nations, to promote collaborative diplomacy, to reach peaceful solutions of disputes in the world and to sow the seeds that would permit harvesting a sustainable peace in the future. In several of these points, Ms. Figueres points out her success with the climate-change agreement.

The Security Council was expected to make a nomination by the end of the month, but the number of candidates might delay that process. The current secretary general, the Korean Ban Ki-moon, leaves office at the end of the year.

President Solís opens the nominating letter in the presence of Ms. Figueres.

President Solís opens the nominating letter in the presence of Ms. Figueres.

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