In all of the fierce lobbying on the choice of a new secretary general for the United Nations, only one woman is being taken seriously--Gro Harlem Brundtland, prime minister of Norway. And in the unofficial balloting that has taken place in the Security Council, she has won only two votes. But it's not too late for the United Nations to realize that it's time to seek out a woman for this role.
Women for Mutual Security, an international network of women's peace organizations, has presented the United Nations with eight names of women, including Brundtland, who would be entirely suited for this job. But the names are less important than the principle.
The spirit of the U.N. debate so far has been that the candidate should be a "manager," someone distant from narrow political and regional interests. But management is just a technique, a skill. The secretary general needs such people around her, but her major role is that of international arbiter, peacekeeper and peacemaker. She must be accepted as an independent actor by the key powers and other nations. Her authority must flow from the the U.N. Charter and the various U.N. conventions and resolutions rather than from the pressure of the more powerful and rich members. She must seek to bring to life the full range of peace treaties and resolutions that the U.N. bodies have put forward over the past 46 years.