Irina Bokova - live commentary from the General Assembly hearing


From 12 - 14 April 2016, candidates for the position of UN Secretary-General are taking part in informal dialogues at the General Assembly, as provided for by Resolution 69/321.  The 1 for 7 Billion campaign welcomes this historic breakthrough and the additional transparency and scrutiny that comes with it.

Rather than a complete record, the following commentary picks up on statements pertinent to 1 for 7 Billion's campaign proposals.

Tuesday 12 April: live from the General Assembly, New York

11:00: Irina Bokova (Bulgaria)

11:18: Irina Bokova thanks the President of the General Assembly for this "historic opportunity". She notes that the transparency and accountability of the selection process are the responsibility of candidates as well as member states. 

11:27: Bokova concludes her opening remarks with an emphasis on gender equality, stating, "I think that the 21st century has to be the century of a true commitment to equality between the sexes, and to provide women with the opportunity to develop as equal members of their society."

11:30: The Non-Aligned Movement asks the first question: how will Bokova address the issue of inequitable geographic representation in the UN Secretariat? Past reports have suggested that "no Secretary-General has been immune to pressure" to make appointments based on politics rather than merit. 1 for 7 Billion holds that all UN appointments should be based on merit, and states should not extract promises from Secretary-General candidates in exchange for support.

11:33: Thailand echoes the Non-Aligned Movement, noting that no state is supposed to have a monopoly on a specific high-level post.

11:40: Bokova notes that as Director-General of UNESCO, she has had considerable experience working with regional and other groups of States, including the Non-Aligned Movement, the EU, and others. 

11:45: Bokova adds that she has made efforts to improve geographic representation in UNESCO as its Director-General. No comment on whether she would be fully independent in making her appointments as UN Secretary-General. 

11:56: The European Union takes the floor to ask about Bokova's qualifications. How would Bokova's past experiences provide her with the managerial skills needed to be the UN Secretary-General? 

11:59: Speaking for the Accountability, Coherence, and Transparency (ACT) group, Chile raises the issue of UN reform, including both the challenges and opportunities facing the Organization.

12:04: A great question about the Secretary-General's role in international peace and security! Sweden asks Bokova how she would use her "good offices" as the next UN Secretary-General.

12:07: Japan poses questions about two issues: reform of the UN Security Council, and management reform in the UN Secretariat. 

12:17: Responding to Sweden's question about the SG's "good offices," Bokova emphasizes the "enormous moral authority" of the Secretary-General. 

12:19: Bokova highlights the changes to the selection process for Secretary-General to make it more open and transparent. "These changes", she states, "show a shift in how the Security Council is working". 1 for 7 Billion believes that the General Assembly also has an important role to play in this process. 

12:27: The Maldives raises the issue of senior appointments, noting that these have been "politicised".

12:41: Bokova speaks about the importance of modern management practices and greater transparency. She believes these are "on the radar" of the current SG, and Bokova would be more than happy to carry them forward.  

13:08: Emphasising that racism, xenophobia, Islamophobia, and antisemitism are on the rise around the world, Bokova states that these issues go to the heart of why the UN was created. 

13:17: The Secretary-General first and foremost serves member states, says Bokova. The role of the Secretary-General is to engage the membership in order to implement UN decisions.  

13:19: Bokova concludes her remarks, but heads to a media stakeout to answer further questions from the press. 

Photo: Candidate for Next Secretary-General Addresses Member States. Copyright UN Photo/Manuel Elias.