Photo via La Nación

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon arrived to the country yesterday for a two-day visit during which he is meeting with President Mauricio Macri and Foreign Minister Susana Malcorra, who is currently in the run to replace him as the head of the UN.

Ban Ki-moon kicked off his first visit to the country in five years by taking part in an academic session organized by the Argentine Council for International Relations (CARI) this morning. Malcorra and other diplomats from the Macri administration were also part of the session, which took place in a hotel in the City of Buenos Aire’s center. The Secretary General then made his way to the Casa Rosada for a private meeting with President Macri.

“I value President Macri’s leadership in launching the first national plan to fight gender-based violence. At the same time, I thanked him for his commitment on implementing the Paris accord to fight climate change. I think it’s encouraging the way Argentina’s priorities are aligning with the UN’s, especially when it comes to sustainable development. I’m also very glad to work in different matters with Susana Malcorra,” said Ban Ki-moon during the press conference.

This afternoon, Ban Ki-moon is meeting privately with Malcorra, his cabinet chief from 2012 to 2015. Tomorrow, he will begin his day paying his respects to the victims of the last military dictatorship in the Parque de La Memoria (remembrance park), located in the neighborhood of Núñez. During the afternoon he will join Buenos Aires City Mayor Horacio Rodríguez Larreta in the City Hall’s auditorium in Parque Patricios to give a speech about cities’ role in achieving sustainable development in the world.

Ban Ki-moon will step down from his post as UN Secretary General on December 31 this year. Although Malcorra came in 8th out of 12 in the first pre-selection of contenders to succeed him, she did a lot better in last week’s second round of votes.

The UN’s Security Council vote to select the least objectionable candidate to head the UN. There are 15 members of the Security Council, five of which have veto power: the US, the UK, France, Russia and China. They can apply their veto power to the potential candidates. Security Council members rated the 12 candidates with a ballot marked with three options: “encourage,” “discourage” or “no opinion.” Based on the results, which are not binding, the candidates can voluntarily step down or continue in the race: there will be another pre-selection in September and then a general vote on October 17th.

Malcorra and Ban Ki-Moon are old pals. Photo via Telesur
Malcorra and Ban Ki-Moon are old pals. Photo via Telesur

According to Clarín, Malcorra came in third behind Antonio Guterres, the former Portuguese Prime Minister and head of the UN refugee agency, and former Head of the UN General Assembly, Serbian Vuk Jeremic. This is good new for Malcorra because not only did she  climb from 8th to 3rd position, but she also became the woman who gathered the most support with eight votes in favor, six against and one abstention. Guterres again came in 1st, but unlike the first voting process, he got two negative votes. However, there’s still a long way to go: Clarín reported that the Security Council will vote six or seven more times before making its definitive call.

Over the past few months, Malcorra has visited around 30 countries, combining her agenda as Argentine foreign minister with her UN candidacy. In June, it was revealed that the US would endorse Malcorra. However, there is a potential obstacle: obtaining the UK’s vote despite tensions between Argentina and the UK over the Malvinas sovereignty dispute. The UK is also a member of the Security Council and has the power to veto a candidate.

If she wins, Malcorra has stated that she will begin a “smooth transition” out of Argentina’s foreign ministry, keeping her post until December. If she loses, she will allegedly keep her post as foreign minister.