Irish Leader Eyed to Be Next Chief Of the UN

How do you get to be UN secretary-general? Try hard not to campaign for it.

For Mary Robinson, president of Ireland and someone increasingly mentioned as the next United Nations chief, that low-key approach appears to be preferable.

With the United States opposed to another term for incumbent Boutros Boutros-Ghali, Mrs. Robinson has some reason to be hopeful. Elected in 1990 as Ireland's first female president after a successful law career, she has made the world take note of her by transforming a figurehead position into a platform from which to provide moral leadership for her nation.

The globe-trotting leader has taken on a number of world issues. In a recent talk before the UN Association of Greater Boston, she called for better preventive measures to avoid such conflicts such as Bosnia. "As well as dealing with the actual manifestations of conflict, we need to strengthen the mechanisms available to us to anticipate and forestall conflict," she said.

She stressed that smaller nations may have greater empathy for those in need. She said Ireland's past hardships under British rule give it "an experience similar to a significant number of developing nations."

Her speech was peppered with references to the UN, and Ireland's work with it. Her term expires in November 1997, and the choice for the UN job will be made in the coming months. She has not denied being interested in it.

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