Dear President of the General Assembly Mr. Bozkir, Dear United Nations Ambassadors,
LAST WEEK I took the first step on a journey to make a #UNThatWorks.
I am not running for the Secretary-General of the United Nations to fulfill some long-held
ambition. Nor do I feel entitled because of my age, gender, or ethnicity.
I am choosing to run in this election – at this moment – because of the urgency of now.
We are not living up to our purpose or our promise. We are failing those we are here to serve.
*Refugees: There are 85 million refugees and displaced people globally. This is the highest number
ever recorded. Half are children. Half have been displaced for more than 10 years. Because we
have failed one of our most basic responsibilities, many refugees have become victims of human
trafficking, smuggling, or lured into terrorist organizations for sustenance and survival. This abuse
of human rights is a threat to global peace and security. How long will the world patiently wait for
us to get our act together?
*Technology and Education: We are supposed to help countries develop. Yet, the countries that
have received the bulk of our development aid in the past 40 years remain the poorest in the world.
It’s time for a new approach. An approach rooted in the power of people to be the real agents of
change. No country can prosper in the absence of reliable internet and online platforms to educate
its people. If we empower people with 21st century tools, there is no problem they cannot solve.
*Humanitarian crises: We are here to solve humanitarian crises, not perpetuate them. To help
rebuild countries struck by natural disaster and bring some measure of peace to countries torn by
civil strife. Yet, despite humanitarian relief efforts initiated more than 10 years ago in Haiti, Libya
and Syria, millions continue to live in squalor, without clean water, adequate health care, safety or
security. We must learn to complete tasks we start.
*COVAX: We are now told that it will take at least three years to provide vaccines to the world.
While we get our act together, thousands more will die. Such is not because ‘multilateralism is
failing.’ Such is because ‘multilateralism is not delivering.’ Multilateralism is the reason we have
produced a vaccine in record time. We have known for a year that a vaccine was being produced.
We have known for a year the world would expect us to lead. We need a plan. We need it now.
We need to implement it. Yesterday.
There are consequences to our shortcomings. Much of the world has come to view the UN as an
institution that talks too much, spends too much and does too little.
The problem lies not with the many dedicated employees who work here or a lack of resources. It
lies with leadership who is unable to keep pace with technology and innovation and capitalize on
the human and financial resources at its disposal.
The urgency is now.
Last night, a girl, who has now lived in a refugee camp long enough to become a teenager, slept
in fear of being kidnapped by human traffickers.
Today a mother in Libya will choose between enduring another day amid bloody conflict or risking
the lives of her children attempting to sail the Mediterranean to safety.
There will be those who say I lack the resume required of a Secretary-General, that I am but a mere
‘employee,’ that my gender and youth are a disqualification. That is to be expected of those who
don’t want to address the urgency of now.
Suffice to say, I have been here long enough to see that the UN is beginning to drown in a sea of
irrelevance, that we are failing those we are here to serve, that the longer we wait to value results over rhetoric, the more irrelevant we will become.
Your role has awarded you the privilege of selecting the next Secretary-General of the United
Nations. With privilege comes responsibility. A responsibility to be fair and transparent, willing
to indulge the voices and opinions of those who may not think like you, talk like you, or look like
you; yet are sincere and willing to offer a 21st century vision of what the UN can and should be.
In the last 20 years, the UN has spent 1 trillion dollars. For every dollar it receives, 30 cents is
used for the cause, and the balance pays for a bloated bureaucracy. This is not how it should be.
Secretary-Generals must effectively fulfill their duties as the Chief Administrative Officer. My
financial knowledge will be an asset in ensuring the UN delivers on its promises.
My grandparents relocated from Pakistan to India after the partition in 1947, where I was born. I
grew up hearing stories about their life as refugees. I spent the formative years of my life in India
and Saudi Arabia, graduated college and began my professional career in Canada before being
recruited by the UN. I understand the regional dynamics of the Middle East, Asia and the West.
I am not asking for your vote. Yet.
All I am asking for is a hearing, the chance to discuss my vision, to share with you ideas on our
path forward, and the ways that we can fulfill our promise to the world.
The world will forgive a spirited discussion on the future of the UN; but it will not forgive silence.
The next generation will inherit a lot from us. Climate crisis, a debt burden no one is talking about,
human suffering that is exponentially rising, and a UN that does not deliver.
There is one problem you have the power to solve immediately and not pass to the next generation.
Who you select this election will determine the trajectory of the United Nations, International
Organizations and Multilateralism for decades to come.
This year, this election, you will make history. A history that will either uplift humanity or maintain
the status quo.
A lot rests on your shoulders.
Robert Kennedy said, “history will judge you, and as the years pass, you will ultimately judge
yourself, in the extent to which you have used your gifts and talents to lighten and enrich the lives
of your fellow men. In your hands lies the future of your world and the fulfillment of the best
qualities of your own spirit.”
I have taken the first step on this journey of change. I request that you take the next.
CC: The World