Priorities for the appointment of a new Secretary-General

A few hours after the Security Council announced its decision to recommend António Guterres to be the next UN Secretary-General on 5 October, a 1 for 7 Billion delegation met the new President of the General Assembly, Peter Thomson.

The meeting came ahead of a resolution, due to be adopted by the UN General Assembly on Thursday, which is expected to approve the Security Council's choice of leader and determine the terms of the future Secretary-General’s job.

The President's two special advisers, appointed to consult states about the contents of this resolution, were also present at the meeting.

The President expressed appreciation for the role that 1 for 7 Billion had played in opening up the selection process and making it more transparent and inclusive. In turn, the 1 for 7 Billion delegation welcomed the President’s assurances that he was committed to building on the new standards of transparency and inclusivity set by his predecessor, Mogens Lykketoft.

In welcoming the progress made so far, Mr Thomson felt it was important to identify the lessons learnt and invited 1 for 7 Billion to play a role in that process. He added that he hoped to conclude the consultation process on the forthcoming General Assembly resolution as soon as possible.

1 for 7 Billion further noted that the resolution was a crucial opportunity for the General Assembly not to simply 'rubber-stamp' previous resolutions that have been adopted to appoint Secretaries-General in the past, and that merely reflected the recommendation made by the Security Council. Instead, the delegation stressed that the resolution should:

  • reaffirm and specify the historic advances in the election process that have been achieved, ensuring that they will be applied and strengthened in future processes to select the Secretary-General;
  • welcome the role played by civil society in enhancing transparency of the selection process;
  • affirm the authority of the General Assembly to set the term of appointment of the Secretary-General, preferably for a longer, non-renewable term;
  • stress the obligations of all states under the UN Charter not to influence the Secretary-General in the exercise of his duties - a matter of particular importance since the permanent five veto-carrying members of the Security Council have in the past used their powerful position to extract promises from candidates in exchange for support;
  • and affirm that there should be no monopoly on senior posts by nationals of any state or group of states.

See here for the full text of 1 for 7 Billion's Proposed Elements for inclusion in the General Assembly resolution appointing the UN Secretary-General. 

The delegation consisted of Steering Committee members William Pace (WFM/IGP), Yvonne Terlingen (IGP) and Volker Lehman (FES), as well as Antonia Kirkland (Equality Now) and Renzo Pomi (Amnesty International). 


Photo: (from left to right) Volker Lehman, Friedrich Ebert Foundation (FES), Ambassador Peter Thomson, President of 71st session of the General Assembly, Yvonne Terlingen, Institute for Global Policy (IGP), William Pace, World Federalist Movement/Institute for Global Policy (WFP/IGP), Antonia Kirkland, Equality Now and Renzo Pomi, Amnesty International.