As the process to select the next United Nations Secretary-General gets under way, the President of the General Assembly announced today that he will hold a series of informal dialogues and meetings with all potential candidates from 12 to 14 April.
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, Assembly President Mogens Lykketoft said at a press briefing this afternoon at Headquarters in New York on the selection and appointment process.
“I think this is quite historic and potentially game-changing for the way the Secretary-General is appointed,” said Mr. Lykketoft.
The General Assembly President noted that he sent a letter yesterday 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.
Thus far, six candidates have been officially presented: Srgian Kerim of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia; Vesna Pusic of Croatia; Igor Luksic of Montenegro; Danilo Turk of Slovenia; Irina Bokova of Bulgaria; and Natalia Gherman of the Republic of Moldova.
According to the UN Charter, the Secretary-General is appointed by the General Assembly following the recommendation of the Security Council.
The General Assembly President, along with Security Council President Samantha Power, issued a letter to Member States on 15 December 2015 to begin soliciting candidates and to set in motion the selection and appointment process.
In the briefing today, Mr. 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, Mr. Lykketoft said there was no “hard and fast rule.” Of course, a group could argue in favour of regional rotations, he said, 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, Mr. 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.”
In response to a question on whether he had met with any of the candidates, Mr. 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.
In addition, answering a question on whether candidates would disclose the amount of money spent to support their candidacy in their campaigns, the General Assembly President stressed that it was not “within his competence” to write rules and regulations about such matters. However, 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.
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.