For first time, UN chief aspirants to be quizzed by members

For first time, UN chief aspirants to be quizzed by members

For first time, UN chief aspirants to be quizzed by members

The election of the next UN Secretary General will be "historic" and "game-changing" as the member states will interact and question all potential candidates with equal representation being given to women aspirants for the first time in its 70-year-old history.

As the process to select the next UN Secretary-General gets under way, General Assembly President Mogens Lykketoft said that he will hold a series of informal dialogues and meetings with all potential candidates from April 12 to 14.

Each candidate will be offered a two-hour meeting slot to present his or her candidature, and UN Member States will have the opportunity to ask questions and interact with each person, Lykketoft said here yesterday.

"I think this is quite historic and potentially game-changing for the way the Secretary-General is appointed,” Lykketoft said.

India, along with a majority of UN member states, has called for changing and improving the existing process of selecting the world body's chief, saying that gender equality and regional rotation should be given due regard in selecting the successor to Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.

In a first, UN Security Council President for December US envoy Samantha Power and General Assembly President Mogens Lykketoft had circulated a letter last month to the 193 UN members soliciting names of candidates for the next UN chief and vowing to make the process more transparent and inclusive.

The two also made a special emphasis on the need for members states to nominate women candidates for the job of the world’s top diplomat.

No woman has served as Secretary General in the 70 years that the UN has been in existence.

The General Assembly President further noted that he sent a new letter to all UN Member States informing them of his intention to begin the meetings with all candidates who had been formally presented by that time.

"The informal dialogues or meetings will be as open and transparent as possible, with the considerable interest from the global public and civil society being duly kept in mind," the letter states.

So far, six candidates have been officially presented, three of them women- former Croatian Deputy Prime Minister Vesna Pusic, UNESCO Director General Irina Bokova and Acting Prime Minister of Moldova Natalia Gherman.

The men who have put forward their candidature are former Macedonian foreign minister Srgian Kerim, former Prime Minister of Montenegro Igor Luksic and former President of Slovenia Danilo Turk.

According to the UN Charter, the Secretary-General is appointed by the General Assembly following the recommendation of the Security Council. The next Secretary-General will assume the role in January 2017.

Traditionally, the UN chief has severed a five-year term, which can be renewed by Member States.  

Lykketoft noted that each candidate will be asked to provide a short vision statement of up to 2,000 words in advance, which his office will circulate to member states and the public.

Asked whether there were any regulations about regional rotations for the Secretary-General post, Lykketoft said there was no "hard and fast rule" but a group could argue in favour of regional rotations, noting that of the five regional groups, the Central European group was the only one that had not yet been able to select a Secretary-General.

Another group might argue that this was an opportune occasion for selecting the first female Secretary-General, he added.

Answering a question about the vetting process in the Security Council, Lykketoft said he was unaware of what the final procedures would be in the Council, but he expected that each and every candidate would be presented in the General Assembly as part of the process he had outlined.

He encouraged all member states to bring candidates forward.

"There is an opportunity for the membership to have much more influence than before," he said, adding that it would be "difficult" to see the Security Council "coming up later with a different name."

On whether he had met with any of the candidates, Lykketoft said that he had already met with all of the current candidates on different occasions, and that as late as this week, he had met with three of the six.

When asked whether candidates would disclose the amount of money spent to support their candidacy in their campaigns, the General Assembly President said it was not "within his competence" to write rules and regulations about such matters.

He encouraged reporters to raise such questions with the candidates themselves, and also expressed hope that the General Assembly and the Security Council would "find a balance" to get the best candidate elected.  

Get a round-up of the day's top stories in your inbox

Check out all newsletters

Get a round-up of the day's top stories in your inbox