The challenges facing the United Nations: A speech by Vesna Pusić

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A lecture by Vesna Pusić, Deputy Speaker of the Croatian Parliament and candidate for the post of UN Secretary General, on the challenges facing the United Nations.

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The next Secretary-General of the United Nations will have a challenging agenda from day one. Civil wars in Syria, South Sudan, Yemen and elsewhere defy the best peace-making efforts of the international community. A migrant crisis afflicts multiple continents, with the terrible costs borne by the most vulnerable. Agreements on climate change and on sustainable development, now reached, must be implemented. Against all this is the backdrop of the UN itself which, after many years of unprecedented demands, needs to be reformed to better cope with the realities of a multipolar twenty-first century.

What is also unprecedented is the most transparent competition for the post of Secretary-General ever. Never before have the candidates been publicly scrutinised in such a way. As part of this process, this series of lectures brings RUSI members into close conversation with the candidates in an informed discussion of the most important priorities for the new Secretary-General.

Vesna Pusić, Deputy Speaker of the Croatian Parliament, former First Deputy Prime Minister, and former Minister of Foreign and European Affairs, gave her views on the challenges facing the UN, calling upon her considerable experience as both a politician and an academic. Ms Pusić will also discuss the importance of empowering woman and girls, particularly in post-conflict societies, and its links to the wider challenges that the UN faces.

Speaker’s Biography

Prof. dr. sc. Vesna Pusić has been actively involved in Croatian and international politics for more than two decades; co-founder and long standing leader of the Croatian People’s Party -– Liberal Democrats -- she held the office of First Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign and European Affairs and has chaired the Parliamentary Committee on monitoring Croatia’s accession to the EU. She was also elected Vice-President of the European Liberals (ALDE Party) in three terms. At the moment she is serving as Deputy Speaker of Croatian Parliament in her second term.

As a social activist Vesna Pusić was a co-founder of the first feminist group in the former Yugoslavia which, in 1979, a seminal women’s and feminist organization in Yugoslavia and Croatia for years to come. In 1992 Ms. Pusić co-founded and became director of the Erasmus Guild, a nongovernment, non-partisan think-tank for the culture of democracy. All of the activities of the Erasmus Guild focused on advocating dialogue and finding peaceful solutions for the wars in Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina, fighting extreme nationalism and providing critical analysis of authoritarian regimes in the region.

Ms Pusić was elected to Full Professor at the University of Zagreb, teaching Sociology and Political Theory, and has lectured also at numerous universities including Georgetown University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cornell University and many others.

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