The race for the position of “top diplomat” is on. The role of the United Nations Secretary-General involves spearheading initiatives toward ending global poverty, presiding over thousands of staffers and agencies and establishing world peace.
For the first time ever, the candidates presented their vision of the U.N. to the General Assembly in New York. They took questions from the public, governments and journalists in a townhall format, breaking free from tradition.
A common theme at the General Assembly among candidates was finding political solutions to conflict and ending global poverty. Irina Bokova, head of UNESCO, said enhancing the prevention of conflict and violence through political solutions and diplomacy should be the core task of the U.N.
Vensa Pusic, former Foreign Minister of Croatia, also mentioned the inequality over scarce resources as drivers of conflict. “For all the progress that has been made, too many people have been left behind,” Pusic said, according to IRIN News. “This is morally wrong, but it is also a threat to peace and security.”
The candidates also discussed taking a U.N. approach that recognizes the links between sustainable development, peace and security, human rights and humanitarian relief.
Former Moldovan Foreign Minister Natalia Gherman said that there needs to be enhanced coordination between humanitarian and development communities. Similarly, former U.N. Refugees Leader Antonio Guterres noted that the U.N. needs to “strengthen the nexus between peace and security, sustainable development and human rights policies,” IRIN news reports.
The impact of climate change was another theme among candidates. Macedonian economist Srgjan Kerim said the U.N. should be the driving force in addressing global warming. He also said developing countries are the most exposed to climate change impacts and that their special needs must be high on the Secretary-General’s agenda.
In addition, the question of funding setbacks for humanitarian assistance was addressed. Vuk Jeremic, former President of the U.N. General Assembly offered a solution. He called for a special envoy to mobilize resources to address shortfalls, with emphasis on Middle Eastern and African refugee crisis and disaster relief. Jeremic noted that this would improve coordination of humanitarian relief, support and assistance to refugees.
The U.N. Security Council will make a recommendation for the top position in the U.N. and commence informal straw polls in closed meetings. The winner will be selected in September, declared in October and begin their term January 1, 2017.
– Kerri Whelan