There is no panic, no uncertainty and it will be business as usual under Taleb Rifai until the process is concluded within 4 months.
The United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) are not novices at protocol, rules or procedures. So it should come as no surprise, if the Secretary-General Elect, Zurab Polokashivili does not receive 2/3 of the General Assembly vote tomorrow, UNWTO has a strong back up plan. A very well thought out back up plan, that would perhaps save us from an UNWTO future we might all live to regret if the proposed candidate receives enough votes tomorrow.
Fresh Elections if Polokashivili is not elected tomorrow.
A global organization such as UNWTO has a myriad of rules and regulations governing procedures. Here is the official version of what will happen if the Georgia candidate fails to win 2/3 of the vote. None of which is a big deal, it would entail a fresh, clean, expedited election.
“In accordance with Articles 12 (c) and 22 of the Statutes, the General Assembly appoints the Secretary-General based on a recommendation of the Executive Council. Thus, if the General Assembly fails to appoint a selected nominee by the Executive Council to the post of Secretary-General, the General Assembly will have to request the Executive Council for a new recommendation for appointment. It is therefore, the responsibility of the Executive Council to select and propose a new nominee to the General Assembly for appointment. In this case and, in accordance with the existing legal framework of the Organization, a new election procedure would need to be initiated. The Executive Council, in accordance with Rule 2 (f) of its Rules of Procedure and the well-established practice of the Organization would be responsible to set the procedure and timetable for the appointment of the new Secretary-General, including if necessary, convening an extraordinary session of the Executive Council and of the General Assembly as a matter of urgency and in order to finalize this process in the shortest possible period of time.”
The compelling bottom line is, it helps us enormously as an industry to wait a mere four months to vote and usher a qualified, appropriate, authentic candidate into the Secretary-General position. Taleb Rifai would remain in office and oversee proceedings. Reliable sources say a new Secretary-General could be finalized latest at FITUR this coming January in Madrid.
We all understand how important it may be for Georgia’s national interest to win the Secretary-General position within the UN system. We understand the government of Georgia has done everything possible to ‘win’ this post for their candidate. The Prime Minister of Georgia personally is the top advocate and fighter for this position, however, our UNWTO is more critical than a nation’s ambitions.
For many attending the inclusive, embracing 22nd UNWTO General Assembly, it is business as usual.
Meet and greet old friends, make new friends, enjoy the wonderful Chinese hospitality and then go home happy.
That should not be the case here in Chengdu, make no mistake, there is a world at stake tomorrow. Our global tourism industry is at stake tomorrow with the Secretary-General voting at the General Assembly.
Global travel and tourism is an important industry and differs greatly from general international politics.
As an industry we owe it to our outgoing Secretary-General, Dr. Taleb Rifai, to honor his considerable legacy with a successor who is worthy and capable of taking over the reigns he has held so wisely and with strength during his tenure.
Now, because of circumstances not related to tourism, but rather to favoritism, and skilled diplomatic moves, the UNWTO General Assembly will vote tomorrow for or against a man who is the polar opposite of the outgoing Secretary-General. It is hoped delegates will see beyond the slick wheeling and dealing, the posturing and lip service to our industry and see the much larger picture: global tourism is in a world of uncertainty, in a very uncertain world.
Tomorrow is show time for delegates, it’s time for delegates to stand up and be counted. Every vote is important. Simply saying OK, yes and confirming a candidate so clearly out of his depth is not responsible voting for our global tourism industry, or for any individual country.
We suspect most nations are not asleep at the wheel in Chengdu, they will refuse to be herded like sheep to ratify a less than stellar candidate for tourism’s top post.
The Secretary-General position is not a diplomatic post or mission to be handed off to an entitled individual from a privileged family with a power base within a country with little regard for our actual global tourism agenda. We hope that thought alone keeps voting delegates awake tonight when considering how they will vote tomorrow.
It is also our belief there is a very important role for the Secretary-General Elect to thrive in within our
UNWTO, it just isn’t the Secretary-General post right now. We wish the very best for this candidate and hope he will work in some capacity within UNWTO.
In closing, best wishes to us all, may our UNWTO General Assembly vote responsibly tomorrow, may they
vote with courage, may they vote with heart and a love for our industry that will not allow us to be compromised
by outside agendas unrelated to tourism.
As always, we welcome your thoughts, insights, and feedback. Please do not hesitate to reach out to us,
either on or off the record.