Former Colombian presidents Juan Manuel Santos and Iván Duque are considering running for the position of Secretary-General of the United Nations. The current UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres of Portugal, will finish his second term in 2026, and it is widely believed in international forums that his successor will be a Latin American.
Competition among former presidents
Although the efforts for the two potential candidacies are being carried out with great discretion, it has been learned that former president and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Juan Manuel Santos has met with members of the UN Security Council in New York. Santos also has a significant international endorsement: he signed the peace agreement with the now-defunct FARC, the oldest guerrilla group in the continent, which led to his Nobel Prize in 2016.
In an interview with the Colombian television channel RCN, the former president stated, “I am not seeking my nomination,” but rumors in international circles indicate that the option is open.
The support of the current Colombian president, Gustavo Petro, does not seem guaranteed due to recent disagreements between the government of the Historic Pact and the Nobel Peace Prize laureate.
On the other hand, former president Iván Duque also has good contacts in Washington and is currently working at the Wilson Center in the US capital. In this regard, former Mexican president Felipe Calderón has already endorsed Duque for a possible candidacy, highlighting his commitment to the fight against climate change.
Both Calderón and Duque belong to the conglomerate of former center-right presidents from Spain and Latin America called the IDEA Group. This fact could be important in garnering support from different leaders in the region and in the European country, which is also awaiting elections in the coming month of July that could bring a right-wing government to power.
The outcome of the US elections in 2024, and whether there is a change in the occupant of the White House, could also influence support for a possible Duque candidacy.
Bachelet, a potential rival
Considering that it is assumed that the next Secretary-General will be a representative from Latin America, a third potential candidate could complicate the path for the Colombians. This candidate is former Chilean president Michelle Bachelet. The Chilean leader has extensive experience in the international organization, having served as the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights from 2018 to 2022.
Bachelet would be the first woman to hold a position traditionally occupied by men since the establishment of the organization in 1945.