Statement by 1 for 7 Billion at informal meeting of the plenary with Secretary-General-designate Guterres

On 19 October, Secretary-General-designate António Guterres, "in listening mode," met with the UN General Assembly for an informal meeting of the plenary, in preparation for his assumption of office. William Pace (pictured) of the World Federalist Movement - Institute for Global Policy presented the following statement on behalf of the 1 for 7 Billion campaign.


Mr. Secretary-General-designate,

On behalf of the 1 for 7 Billion campaign, we express our warm congratulations on your appointment, and appreciate your firm commitment to upholding the Charter and its universal values.

1 for 7 Billion, comprising more than 750 organisations and 170 million supporters of global civil society, was established in November 2014 as a civil society campaign for a more open, transparent and merit-based UNSG selection process, reflecting the higher standards for which states and civil society have persistently called.

We salute the hard work by many Member States to establish the new procedures through landmark resolution 69/321, applauding in particular the facilitation of the Ad Hoc Working Group on the Revitalization of the General Assembly, and the leadership of the Accountability, Coherence and Transparency group (ACT) and the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM).

We were delighted that President Lykketoft of the 70th Session of the General Assembly took every opportunity to maximise candidates’ interaction with all States, civil society, and the media, and was able to establish a constructive relationship with the Security Council in implementing the General Assembly’s resolution. We appreciate the continued commitment to transparency by President Thomson. 

At this time of horrific, multiple, and very complex global challenges, the world needs UN leadership of the highest calibre and character. It is crucial that, as the new Secretary-General, you will be able to select the strongest leadership team of women and men from all the world’s regions, appointed not as a result of compromises and political deal-making, but on the basis of merit alone.

The Charter mandates a merit-based system that secures the “highest standards of efficiency, competence, and integrity,” and the General Assembly has recent re-affirmed that there should be no monopoly on senior posts by nationals of any state or group of states. 

We urge all Member States to respect these provisions, and we trust that your senior appointments will fully reflect the spirit and letter of the Charter. We also look forward to early implementation of the roadmap you have promised for achieving gender parity at all levels of staffing.

We will continue our efforts to stimulate further debate in the Assembly on a longer, non-renewable term for the Secretary-General, which has many advantages and would enhance the independence of the office.

Mr. Secretary-General-designate, you are the first to be appointed under the new selection process, which has been nearly universally praised for enhancing the credibility and legitimacy of the UN and your office. Through our global campaign, we know there is a widespread desire by global civil society for deeper engagement with the UN, and with implementing the Charter at every level. However, our engagement is being threatened in many places.

We applaud your vision of the United Nations and ‘We the Peoples’ working jointly for the well-being of humanity. In the spirit of achieving the Charter’s goals, we ask you to be the 1 for 7 Billion: a champion of transparency and meaningful civil society participation in all aspects of the UN’s work. Our partners throughout the world look forward to working with you and wish you the very best.

Thank you.