As UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon’s term comes to an end in 2016, the selection procedure for the next leader has been underway since January. The position is indeed invested with the prestige and heavy responsibilities as old as the organization itself – but the promises of candidates and the unprecedented public stage the selection process is taking this year indicate the body is adapting to new currents as well.
The UN General Assembly website lists nine official candidates for UN Secretary General:
- Dr. Srgjan Kerim, the former Minister of Foreign Affairs of Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia
- Prof. Vesna Pusic, Minister of Foreign and European Affairs of the Republic of Croatia
- Dr. Igor Lukšic, former Prime Minister and current Minister of Foreign Affairs of Montenegro
- Dr. Danilo Türk, former president of Slovenia and Slovenian Ambassador to the United Nations
- Ms. Irina Bokova, former Minister of Foreign Affairs of Bulgaria and current Director-General of UNESCO
- Ms. Natalia Gherman, former Minister of Foreign Affairs and European Integration of Moldova and Acting Prime Minister of Moldova
- Mr. António Guterres, former Prime Minister of Portugal and UN High Commissioner of Refugees
- Ms. Helen Clark, former Prime Minister of New Zealand and Administrator of the UN Development Program
- Vuk Jeremić, former Minister of Foreign Affairs of Serbia and President of the UN General Assembly
The disclosed Vision Statements of these candidates address a variety of policies, but many focus on the issue of structurally reforming the UN body, especially the Security Council. Their approach on reform ranges from Natalia Gherman’s “zero tolerance policy on mismanagement, fraud, abuse, corruption and unethical behavior” to Vuk Jeremic’s promise for utilizing social media to communicate with youth and ensure transparency. Economic empowerment of women worldwide and consistent effort for Sustainable Development Goals were also recurring topics.
The selection procedure is expected to be the most transparent in the UN’s 70 years of history, as the UN General Assembly will organize public debates in London and New York. Not only will diplomats of all 193 member’s states attend, but the event will be open to social organizations and individuals as well. A video of the event will be released on the UN website – the first round of informal dialogues and Q&A sessions with the civil society board has already been uploaded. Compared to how all debates and hearings were held behind closed doors until Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon’s election, this constitutes a big step in guaranteeing the equity in deciding the leadership of the world’s largest coalition of nations.
Following the principle of regional rotation, the next Secretary General is most likely to be selected from Eastern Europe. But many organizations, such as Equality Now, are also arguing for a fair gender representation. The first female UN Secretary General would not only be a symbolic empowerment for female politicians worldwide but would also increase the body’s knowledge in women’s issues. “A woman as secretary general would send a strong signal of progress,” said Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, head of UN Women.
– Haena Chu