While the fallout of Malcolm Turnbull’s refusal to nominate Kevin Rudd for the United Nations Secretary General is still making political waves here in Australia, a tipster has told Crikey that what it misses, is just how much work Rudd has put into the bid and his plans for the United Nations, should he manage to be appointed to the role. Our tipster says Rudd has a blueprint to completely reinvent the United Nations, which he has been sharing with senior people in the organisation. In an interview as part of UNICEF’s Conversation with Thought Leaders series last year, Rudd made some pointed statements about the UN, which give insight into what exactly he would do if given the keys to the building. The conversation with UNICEF’s Executive Director Anthony Lake is on YouTube, but at 55 minutes long it’s a bit of a slog. UNICEF’s Connect website reported on the interview:

“Calling the UN ‘the Parliament of Humankind,’ Kevin Rudd was clear: ‘we should remind ourselves of why the institution itself is inherently valuable. We should cherish what we have. We have been handed by those who have come before us a fragile institution. If it falls apart, it will be extraordinarily difficult to reconstitute anything of its kind.’

In his view, the UN is doing an ‘extraordinarily bad job’ at explaining what it achieves. Hence, Mr. Rudd insisted ‘for the UN to have a future, we must recapture the imagination of the human family … not just in their hearts, but also in their heads through the record of achievement on the ground.’ How? By investing in public relations. There needs to be a much more substantive investment in telling the wider public what it is that the UN does for peace, security and development.

Rudd also pointed towards private investment in the UN reaching its Sustainable Development Goals:

“Reflecting on the ambitious task ahead — the Sustainable Development Goals — Mr. Rudd wasted no time on pondering where the funding would come from. He suggested to put global private capital to greater use in development, particularly to finance the infrastructure in developing countries. The international community should construct a deal whereby private capital takes on infrastructure projects in developing countries, often an underpinning challenge for development of any kind.  The governments’ role would then be to finance the gap between the real return on investment and the minimum required to attract private capital. Mr. Rudd believed this would ‘turbocharge’ the development agenda.”

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey