Vuk Jeremic
United Nations Secretary General candidate Vuk Jeremic, pictured in New York in April 2016, told the London think tank RUSI the UN needed to be modernised Getty

A frontrunner for the post of next United Nations Secretary General has said that the UN has fallen short in dealing with refugee crises, especially in the Middle East.

Vuk Jeremic told London think tank the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) that, if elected for the UN's top job, he would ensure more resources for humanitarian assistance would be provided in conflict zones such as Syria.

In his manifesto, he refers to how the UNHCR was only able to raise 61% of the funding needed to support the 60 million displaced people worldwide needing assistance, including 13.5 million Syrians.

He told the think tank on Thursday (21 April): "It is obvious that the current capacity of the United Nations to provide humanitarian relief, support and assistance in the face of recent crises has proven to be inadequate. I think it is evident that we haven't found yet sustainable solutions to the crises of this magnitude.

"As I was recently visiting refugee camps in the Middle East, I witnessed immense hopelessness and pain... I think we are not there yet," he said.

Jeremic is a former Serbian foreign minister and was elected president of the UN General Assembly in 2012. He said that the UN has to deal with criticism that it is outdated and the quip that the organisation is a "Remington typewriter in a Smartphone age".

He said: "A lot of people say that its effectiveness has diminished and the status quo will make it unfit for purpose, while the UN does remain the depository of grand and enduring ideas, the institutions, many of them are in danger of being overshadowed by a sense of stagnation and failure.

"In order to fend it off, the next secretary general will have to stand at the forefront of a bold effort to rejuvenate it."

UN peacekeepers Mali
UN peacekeepers patrol in Mali in July 2015. Jeremic says the UN's African peacekeeping missions will be a priority Reuters

Peacekeeping operations

He added Africa should be the focus of UN peacekeeping operations in the future and he outlined how he wants to enhance the organisation's counter-terrorism capabilities. Although not referred to in his talk, his manifesto details how evidence of sexual abuse by UN Peacekeepers is causing immense damage to the organisation's reputation.

He told RUSI: "I think when it comes to peacekeeping, a very important task for the next generation of the UN is going to be to consolidate the peace contribution to the African continent. I have proposed the launch of a new deal for African peace operations."

In the most transparent process in the UN's history, Jeremic was one of nine candidates publicly nominated that had to face questions in the UN Assembly as well as facing questions written by people on social media.

The person replacing Ban Ki Moon, who took office in January 2007, will have a lot in their in-tray when they take up the post at the end of 2016. Jeremic said that enhancing the UN's counter-terrorism capabilities, achieving sustainable development and tackling climate change will be the overriding challenges for the UN.

"I would put sustainable development and climate change at the very centre of the United Nations' endeavours," he said.