The Secretary-General: a Comparative Analysis

  • Alan James


A notable feature of the past 100 years has been the growth of international organisations, by which I mean interstate organisations. Each of them has an executive head, often though by no means always given the title of secretary-general. All these secretaries-general will, almost in the nature of things, be more than mere bureaucrats, being involved in the political matters with which their organisations deal. It would, of course, be possible to look in isolation at the political role of the Secretary-General of the United Nations, which is the main focus of this chapter. But such an analysis might gain somewhat in strength if it is approached in the context of a general examination of the political influence of secretaries-general. This route might also, as an intellectual exercise, be more worthwhile. Accordingly, before looking at the factors which affect what the UN Secretary-General can do in international politics, I shall scamper around the whole organisational building, stopping briefly at the doors of some of his numerous peers.


Member State International Labour Organisation European Economic Community Political Role North Atlantic Treaty Organisation 
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Notes and References

  1. 1.
    Robert I. McLaren, Civil Servants and Public Policy: A Comparative Study of International Secretariats (Waterloo, Ont.: Wilfrid Laurier University Press, 1980).Google Scholar
  2. 3.
    S. M. Schwebel, The Secretary-General of the United Nations (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1952) p. 165.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© G. R. Berridge and A. Jennings 1985

Authors and Affiliations

  • Alan James

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