You are currently viewing Who will be the next UN Secretary General?

Who will be the next UN Secretary General?

Indeed, who will be the next Secretary-General?

This is an issue close to all staff of the UN, and CCISUA would like to endorse the attached letter published in July 2016 in Foreign Policy magazine (

UN Staff Open Letter on the selection of the next Secretary-General (2016)

The letter is drafted by a UN staff member affiliated to the 1for7billion campaign, a globally supported campaign committed to getting the best UN Secretary-General (

News Article:
Who will be the next UN Secretary General? Voting begins to choose from 12 candidates

The Telegraph

Harriet Alexander, New York
21 JULY 2016 • 2:46PM

The race to succeed Ban Ki-moon moved up a gear on Thursday, as voting began to decide who will be chosen as the next Secretary General of the United Nations.

Twelve people have presented themselves as candidates – half of them women. The UK and the US have been particularly strident in their call for a woman to lead the UN, for the first time in its 70-year history.

And there is a strong sense within the organisation that the next leader must be someone who can revitalise an organisation seen as obtuse, unaccountable and ineffective.

The UN has been criticised for its ineffectiveness in the face of the Syrian war, and damaged by scandals involving sexual abuse by peacekeepers in Africa. It was also seen as slow to respond to the Ebola outbreak.

How is the vote carried out?

It is all done behind closed doors.

At 10am, the Security Council – the five permanent members of Russia, the UK, China, France and the US, plus the 10 rotating members – will begin the process.

They hold what is known as a straw poll, with each of the 15 countries asked to note their opinion on each candidate. They can either encourage a candidacy, discourage it, or declare no opinion.The votes are then tallied, and each candidate will be informed of the outcome: how many votes they got encouraging and discouraging, plus what the strongest and weakest candidate received.

Some candidates may well drop out after this first round, if they get a significant number of “discourages” and know they have little hope of getting the job.

A second vote will be held next week, with several more before the UN meets for its annual General Assembly in September. It is hoped that, by then, there will only be two or three candidates remaining.

What happens then?

The final candidate will, it is hoped, be selected by October – to take over on January 1.

As the numbers are whittled down, it will eventually come to a Security Council vote.

Each of the permanent members has a veto, so they must agree on a candidate amenable to all. It will then be approved by a final vote at the assembly, essentially rubber stamping the Security Council decision.

Why so much secrecy?

The UN has been long accused of choosing its leader through a Byzantine, shadowy process – somewhat akin to a Papal enclave.

But this year they have tried to make it more transparent, introducing an interview process for the first time, with each candidate submitting a plan of their intentions, appearing at a public question and answer session, and a televised debate.

Matthew Rycroft, Britain’s ambassador to the UN, said that a degree of confidentiality was essential for any vote. But, he argued, a necessary measure of transparency had been injected into the process, which he hoped would lead to the strongest possible candidate getting the job.

“The added transparency and all the other measures the UK has advocated have increased the chances of getting the strong Secretary General which the UK wants,” he said.

Who are the front runners?

The UN has said that it would particularly welcome a female leader, and Eastern Europe is the only region of the world not to have fielded a Secretary General.

However, that does not mean the next leader will be a woman from Eastern Europe – and the race is wide open at the moment.

Current favourites include Antonio Guterres, the Portuguese former head of the UN refugee agency, Danilo Turk, former president of Slovenia, and Helen Clark, New Zealand’s former prime minister and head of the UN Development Project.Susana Malcorra, Argentina’s foreign minister, is seen as an experienced candidate, but her time as Mr Ban’s chief of staff would not satisfy those hoping for a fresh perspective after a decade with the South Korean at the helm.

Irina Bokova, from Bulgaria, was an early favourite but her star has burnt out somewhat, given that many feel she is too close to Russia.

Leave a Reply