Beyond Ban Ki-moon

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2.9.2015 - Over the coming months the process of selecting the next United Nations Secretary General (UNSG) is expected to start picking up steam. The first informal discussions by United Nations Security Council (UNSC) took place on 22 July at New Zealand’s initiative during the ‘any other business’ part of the council’s meeting. While there is no deadline for an appointment and the term of the present UNSG, Mr. Ban Ki-moon, will not expire until 31 December 2016, this early consideration by the council is welcome.

The United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) has also been engaging the issue through its Ad Hoc Working Group on the Revitalisation of the Work of the General Assembly (AHWG).  The Assembly’s ‘Strengthening of the United Nations system’ resolution A/51/24 passed in 1997 offers the only timeline for this process, stating that, “In order to ensure a smooth and efficient transition, the Secretary-General should be appointed as early as possible, preferably no later than one month before the date on which the term of the incumbent expires.”  This resolution followed the 1996 appointment of the former UNSG Kofi Annan on 13 December 1996.

However, as the Security Council Report (SCR) observed on Monday, selections practices are evolving and “in the last competitive selection process in 2006, which resulted in Ban Ki-moon’s appointment, for the first time there was a concerted effort to start the process earlier.”  The successor selected will require the agreement of the Security Council, including the permanent five members of China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States, followed by the approval of the General Assembly.

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Related Links:

•   UN Link: Official Website of the United Nations Secretary General
•   UN Link: Revitalization of the work of the General Assembly
•   SCR Forecast: Secretary-General Selection Process
•   SCR Article: In Hindsight: The Process of Selecting a UN Secretary-General (2015)
•   SCR Factsheet: Selecting the UN Secretary-General: Vetoes, Timing and Regional Rotation (2015)
•   SCR Report: Appointment of the UN Secretary-General (2011)

Photo Credits:

•   Cover: Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon (right) meets with his predecessor, former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan (UN Photo/Paulo Filgeiras #451442)