chapter  4
The Secretary-General as world constable
Pages 20

The Secretary-General’s relationship to the work of the Security Council gives him an aura of the world’s constable. It resembles the model of the classical British “bobby”, the police officer who, backed by law and without weapons more threatening than a baton, patrols dangerous streets to offer help and protection to the public. The metaphor accurately suggests that the Secretary-General can collect information and draw conclusions about threats to international peace and security. His signals of trouble ahead serve as his baton. In some circumstances, he may intervene in quarrels to create a mood, or even a process, to further conciliation. These gestures, even when backed by responses from persuasive governments, may not succeed. And like a classical constable, the Secretary-General cannot pronounce binding judgments as to guilt or innocence, or apply punishment. Rather, he can sometimes start a process of judgment and eventual enforcement.