Push for UN states to get more say in new chief

Plan is for 193 members to see candidates' resumes before Ban steps down next year

UNITED NATIONS • UN member states are pushing to have more of a say in choosing the successor to Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon, who steps down at the end of next year.

A draft resolution is due to be put to a vote at the UN General Assembly next week that would, for the first time, allow the 193-nation members to see the resumes of potential candidates and hear their views.

For decades, the choice of the UN chief has been the purview of the five permanent Security Council members, in a selection process kept mostly behind closed doors.

Mr Ban was chosen by the Security Council, which forwarded his name to the General Assembly for endorsement. The draft resolution requests that the Security Council and the General Assembly start looking for candidates now by sending a letter to all member states inviting applications and explaining the selection process.

NO MORE SECRECY

The ability of the United States, Russia and China and, to some degree, the UK and France to control a secret process in which they pick someone who they can control will be significantly challenged by the decision of the General Assembly.

MR WILLIAM PACE, a leader of the "one for seven billion" campaign of NGOs seeking to open up the selection process for the next UN secretary-general

Interested candidates must have "proven leadership and managerial abilities, extensive experience in international relations and strong diplomatic, communication and multilingual skills", the text said.

The names of candidates for the post would be circulated among the assembly along with full resumes, according to the draft that was finalised on Wednesday.

In a first, the General Assembly would conduct hearings or meetings with potential candidates to ask about their vision for leading the world body.

The draft resolution will be put to a vote on Sept 11.

The lack of transparency surrounding the choice of the secretary-general has long been a thorn in the side of countries that do not sit on the Security Council and non-governmental organisations (NGOs). "The selection of the secretary-general in 2016 will be significantly different from the appointment of any secretary-general since 1945," said Mr William Pace, a leader of the "one for seven billion" campaign of NGOs seeking to open up the selection process.

"The ability of the United States, Russia and China and, to some degree, the UK and France to control a secret process in which they pick someone who they can control will be significantly challenged by the decision of the General Assembly," said Mr Pace.

There have been calls to name a woman to the post, which would be a first after eight men in the job.

The draft resolution specifies that governments are invited to present women as candidates to succeed Mr Ban as of Jan 1, 2017.

Russian Ambassador Vitaly Churkin said this week that the next secretary-general should come from eastern Europe and that the regional criteria should take precedence over gender.

Campaigning for the top post is already in high gear.

Among the names being floated for the top job are two Bulgarians - Unesco chief Irina Bokova and European Union budget commissioner Kristalina Georgieva - along with Croatia's Foreign Minister Vesna Pesic.

Lithuania's President Dalia Grybauskaite has been mentioned, but it is doubtful that a candidate from the Baltics would win Russian support. Attention has also been focused on former New Zealand prime minister Helen Clark, who now heads the UN Development Programme, and Chile's President Michelle Bachelet.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 05, 2015, with the headline 'Push for UN states to get more say in new chief'. Print Edition | Subscribe