The United Nations Security Council on July 27 conducted the first unofficial vote for a new UN Secretary-General to succeed Ban Ki-moon, whose term will end on December 31.
|UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon|
This is the first time in the UN’s 70-year history that the selection process will involve public discussions with candidates campaigning for the world’s top diplomatic post, conducted transparently to ensure equality for all nations. This makes the race for leadership of the world’s largest organization difficult to predict.
The 12 candidates for the position of UN Secretary-General this time include some well-known names: Irina Bokova, Director-General of UNESCO (2009–present); Helen Clark, Administrator of the United Nations Development Program (2009–present); former Deputy Prime Minister of Moldova Natalia Gherman; former Foreign Minister of Croatia Vesna Pusic; and former Prime Minister of Portugal Antonio Guterres.
The selection of a new United Nations Secretary-General has traditionally been decided behind closed-doors by a few powerful countries. The post has been given to a candidate representing the Western European and Others Group (WEOG), the Asian group, the Latin American and Caribbean group, the African group, and the Eastern European group in an unofficial rotation.
But in 2015 the UN General Assembly voted to end the traditional closed-door selection process and make the process more open and transparent to ensure equality for all nations.
Each of the 193 UN member countries is invited to nominate a suitable candidate for the position. The candidates should have proven leadership and managerial ability, extensive experience in international relations, and strong diplomatic, communication, and language skills.
It has been made clear that female candidates are welcome and many feel it is now time to empower women with the right to manage the world’s largest multi-lateral organization.
Consequently, this year’s candidates include several women, and two of them, Irina Bokova, Director-General of UNESCO, and Helen Clark, Administrator of the United Nations Development Program, have a good chance of being selected.
Irina Bokova is known for her great contributions to the development of global science and education. She is supported by Russia who has pointed out that no Eastern European candidate has yet held the UN leadership.
Helen Clark made great contributions to public health, gender equality, and job generation during her 9 years as Prime Minister of New Zealand. Over the last 7 years, heading the UNDP, Ms. Clark has successfully led that organization in addressing the issues of poverty reduction, sustainable economic development, and improvement of women and children’s status.
Observers say both women are politically and diplomatically experienced and are influential in UN activities.
After a preliminary vote on July 21, the UN Security Council will make a final decision in September, which must be approved by the General Assembly in October.
Whoever succeeds Ban Ki-moon will have to take on heavy responsibilities, accelerating and balancing sustainable development between regions, responding to global crises, and reforming the UN to make it more effective in maintaining global peace and stability.