Lykketoft favourite for top UN job

Denmark has never had a President of the UN General Assembly and is among the favourites to fill the prestigious position

Mogens Lykketoft, the former head of the Socialdemokraterne (S) and the current speaker of parliament, is Denmark’s candidate for the President of the United Nations General Assembly.

The Foreign Ministry has announced that Lykketoft, 67, will be presented as Denmark’s candidate today in New York for the 70th UN General Assembly tenure period lasting from September 2015 to September 2016.

The foreign minister, Villy Søvndal (Socialistisk Folkeparti), voiced his support for Lykketoft’s candidacy, describing him as more than qualified to fill the prestigious position.

“The UN general assembly will in 2015-16 make decisions concerning the new global development framework that will replace the current 2015 goals focusing on battling poverty, social and economic development and the protection of the environment,” Søvndal said in a press release. “That’s an important task that we Danes are already deeply involved with. Mogens Lykketoft’s candidacy further proves Denmark’s active UN role.”

The President of the United Nations General Assembly is the individual who represents the UN and leads the General Assembly during meetings. The position rotates annually between Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean, Asia, eastern Europe, and a group consisting of western European countries, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.

Lykketoft is a leading candidate for the presidency because, since Belgium's Paul-Henri Spaak became the first to be elected president in 1946, no Dane has ever held the coveted position, something that gives Lykketoft a clear edge.

“Traditionally, countries that have had a president and countries that have permanent seats in the Security Council don’t put forth a candidate,” Lykketoft told Politiken newspaper. “Amongst the bigger nations only Austria and Denmark have not filled the post before and I’m planning to run for re-election to parliament and then apply for a sabbatical leave if this comes to anything.”

There are currently no other candidates to the position, although there is still time for Austria to reveal a candidate.

Uffe Ellemann-Jensen (Venstre), the former foreign minister, lent his support to Lykketoft, maintaining that his former rival is the best candidate available in Denmark.

“It’s definitely a prestige position and a compliment to the nation that can fill the post,” Ellemann-Jensen told Politiken. “He has been foreign minister and is the speaker of parliament, which puts him above the daily parliamentary squabbles. He satisfies all of the conditions.”

Former Serbian foreign minister Vuk Jeremi is the current and 67th President of the UN General Assembly and John William Ashe from Antigua and Barbuda will replace him in September. After Ashe's tenure finishes in September 2014, there will be one more president from Africa before Lykketoft has the opportunity to fill the posting.

Lykketoft’s political career features stints as Denmark's finance minister (1993-2000) and foreign minister (2000- 2001). He also served as the head of Socialdemokraterne from 2002 to 2005, when he was replaced by the current prime minister, Helle Thorning-Schmidt.

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