We cannot verify your location
Browse Book and Journal Content on Project MUSE

The UN Secretary-General and Moral Authority

Ethics and Religion in International Leadership

Publication Year: 2007

Once described by Trygve Lie as the most impossible job on earth, the position of UN Secretary-General is as frustratingly constrained as it is prestigious. The Secretary-General's ability to influence global affairs often depends on how the international

Published by: Georgetown University Press


pdf iconDownload PDF (31.0 KB)
pp. vii-viii

read more


pdf iconDownload PDF (29.9 KB)
pp. ix-x

The first and most important acknowledgment is to Harold Guetzkow. Dr. Guetzkow initiated the project that produced this volume and ensured generous funding that supported research, travel, and meetings. He stressed the need for a detailed examination of the religious and moral...

read more


pdf iconDownload PDF (65.6 KB)
pp. 1-6

The office of the UN secretary-general has been described as a needed voice in an international arena where moral principles are often seen as subservient to concerns over power and interest. In fact, because the secretary-generalship is a relatively constrained position lacking in traditional...

read more

1. Moral Authority and the UN Secretary-General’s Ethical Framework

pdf iconDownload PDF (239.0 KB)
pp. 7-37

This chapter begins by considering the place of the UN secretary-general in the international arena. This includes a discussion of the perceived moral authority of the secretary-generalship, along with the personal religious and moral values of officeholders that have been viewed as influencing...

read more

2. Seeking Balance: The Secretary-General as Normative Negotiator

pdf iconDownload PDF (163.1 KB)
pp. 39-66

When the secretary-general of the United Nations looks for guidance in his role as chief administrative officer of the organization, he finds that he stands between two normative codes, each with claims upon his loyalty. On one side is his own code of behavior, the set of personal beliefs...

read more

3. The House That Trygve Lie Built: Ethical Challenges as the First UN Secretary-General

pdf iconDownload PDF (266.6 KB)
pp. 67-109

It is interesting that Trygve Halvdan Lie, who, on February 1, 1946, became the first elected secretary-general of the United Nations, is all but forgotten.2 What accounts for the amnesia about this man, a respected labor lawyer, social democrat, and lifelong politician who toiled for seven long...

read more

4. The UN Charter, the New Testament, and Psalms: The Moral Authority of Dag Hammarskjöld

pdf iconDownload PDF (220.6 KB)
pp. 111-141

On July 29, 2005, the world celebrated the hundredth anniversary of Dag Hammarskjöld’s birth. The anniversary provided an opportunity to reflect on this extraordinary individual and his role in world politics. Hammarskjöld would approve of our contemplation on his birthday, as he himself...

read more

5. U Thant: Buddhism in Action

pdf iconDownload PDF (253.5 KB)
pp. 143-186

The election of U Thant as secretary-general on November 3, 1961, six weeks after the tragic death of Dag Hammarskjöld, was a novelty in international relations. U Thant (pronounced Oo Thawnt)1 was the first non-European secretary-general in the United Nations or the League of...

read more

6. An Ethical Enigma: Another Look at Kurt Waldheim

pdf iconDownload PDF (249.1 KB)
pp. 187-228

Kurt Waldheim, as the fourth secretary-general of the United Nations, in many ways remains an enigma. How can one man represent the world’s loftiest principles as grounded in the UN charter, yet fall to the level of a suspected war criminal condemned for the international community’s...

read more

7. Religion, Ethics, and Reality: A Study of Javier Perez de Cuellar

pdf iconDownload PDF (218.1 KB)
pp. 229-264

This chapter analyzes the personal values of Javier Perez de Cuellar and the extent to which his ethical framework influenced him during his tenure as UN secretary-general between 1982 and 1991. The research question at the heart of this chapter inquires whether, during these ten years as...

read more

8. A Realist in the Utopian City: Boutros Boutros-Ghali’s Ethical Framework and Its Impact

pdf iconDownload PDF (215.0 KB)
pp. 265-297

Boutros Boutros-Ghali was sworn in as secretary-general of the United Nations on December 3, 1991. The first post–Cold War secretary-general was raised an Egyptian Coptic Christian and educated in France as an international lawyer. These aspects of his background contributed to an...

read more

9. Politics and values at the United Nations: Kofi Annan’s Balancing Act

pdf iconDownload PDF (246.4 KB)
pp. 299-336

The day after his appointment as the seventh secretary-general of the United Nations, on December 17, 1996, Kofi Annan was asked during a press conference how he would define his new job. He responded that “the Secretary-General’s role is multifaceted. Some have referred to it as...

read more

10. The Secular Pope: Insights on the UN Secretary-General and Moral Authority

pdf iconDownload PDF (110.3 KB)
pp. 337-354

This concluding chapter provides a comparative analysis of the secretariesgeneral. The chapter looks back across the individual case studies to examine the components of the officeholders’ ethical frameworks and whether, in conjunction with external contextual considerations, the role played by...


pdf iconDownload PDF (81.4 KB)
pp. 355-359


pdf iconDownload PDF (773.0 KB)
pp. 361-370

E-ISBN-13: 9781589014732
E-ISBN-10: 1589014731
Print-ISBN-13: 9781589011809
Print-ISBN-10: 1589011805

Page Count: 384
Publication Year: 2007

Research Areas


UPCC logo

Subject Headings

  • Political leadership -- Moral and ethical aspects.
  • United Nations. Secretary-General.
  • International relations -- Moral and ethical aspects.
  • You have access to this content
  • Free sample
  • Open Access
  • Restricted Access