Srgjan Kerim - 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.

15:00: Srgjan Kerim (Macedonia)

15:03: Kerim congratulates member states on adopting the new, more transparent selection procedures for SG. He begins to deliver his vision statement.  

15:06: Kerim explains that his platform is based on consultations with member states and regional groups. 

15:08: Kerim notes that the Eastern European group believes it is its "turn" to be SG, and states that regional rotation has always been important for the UN. 1 for 7 Billion believes that merit should be the primary consideration when appointing an SG, followed by gender and geographic region. 

15:11: Kerim does not believe the next SG should "navigate" the UN--that's the role of member states.  In this, he says that he disagrees with other candidates.

15:12: Kerim highlights his business and academic experience as well as his diplomatic work as part of his qualifications to be Secretary-General. 

15:14: Thailand asks Kerim about how he would address gender and geographic imbalances in the appointment of Secretariat staff, as well as monopolies on some posts by certain states.  

15:17: Kerim is asked by the Non-Aligned Movement about the relationship between the SG and the Security Council, and between the SG and regional groups. 

15:18: NAM says that historically, no SG has been immune to political pressure. How will Kerim ensure his independence? This could give Kerim an opportunity to share his views on a single term of office, a proposal advocated by 1 for 7 Billion. 

15:22: The EU raises the issue of management reform, and asks how Kerim's professional background has equipped him with managerial skills.  

15:28: On gender and geographic balance in his staff, Kerim promises that the gender ratio would improve if he was SG to 60-40 (men to women) or better. 

15:30: Kerim describes the SG as "the face of the organization" and the "conscience" of the Security Council, responsible for making it aware of emerging conflicts.  

15:32: On the issue of independence, Kerim says that "it goes without saying that we must appoint a person of integrity." He does not mention any specific measures to guarantee his independence. 

15:35: Kerim describes his work for a media company for ten years as a key example of his managerial experience. He describes himself as a "results-oriented" person. 

15:37: As PGA, Kerim states that he was the first to involve other stakeholders, such as civil society, in GA meetings.  

15:39: Speaking for the ACT group, Peru asks Kerim about SG's relationship with the SC, particularly in regards to preventing conflict.

15:44: How would you safeguard the involvement of civil society?" the Nordic states ask Kerim.  They further ask how his private sector experience would help him to promote accountability in the UN. 

15:49: The Maldives echoes earlier questions about senior appointments in the UN Secretariat, asking Kerim for "specific measures" he would take to promote gender and regional balance and to address concerns that these appointments are "politicized". 

15:53: On the shortcomings of the UN, Kerim says this "is a story that will never end". Reform can only be advanced when member states are ready. 

15:57: If elected Secretary-General, Kerim says his Deputy-Secretary-General will be a woman--but because of her skills, not her gender.  

15:59: On civil society, Kerim tells the Nordic states that they "are knocking on an open door".  Kerim reiterates that as PGA, he insisted that civil society be "part and parcel" of the UN's work.  

16:02: India thanks Kerim for addressing SC reform in his vision statement, saying he was one of the few to do so.

16:11: Kerim calls himself "a man of consensus," and notes that he was elected PGA by consensus. Consensus "is how we should do things in this organization," Kerim says, as he does not want to be SG of the "divided nations". He feels that this also applies to SC reform. 

16:20: "The Secretary-General is the only legitimate face of this organization," Kerim says.

16:29: Japan is encouraged that Kerim says his "top priority" is management reform, and asks for an example of his past achievements in this area. 

16:32: The US asks how Kerim would reduce UN bureaucracy, make the UN more efficient, and manage human resources issues. 

16:49: Responding to those who might argue that the UN is not the same as a private company, Kerim responds, "it's true, but it's run by money." He learned efficient management in his role in the private sector. 

16:55: Kerim emphasizes that the SG must be a "trust builder". He adds that being SG is "a sacrifice, not a privilege". 

17:01: Kerim says that the Secretary-General "is not a magician". 

17:06: The President of the GA makes remarks about the hearings themselves, describing them as "an integral part of the process". He notes the Secretary-General will represent "seven billion people," and encourages any remaining candidates to come forward as soon as possible. 

Media Stakeout:

17:15: Kerim steps out to speak to the press, and notes that he has experience with the media business through his private sector work.

17:16: Asked about campaign finance, Kerim explains that the Macedonian government has spent 60,000 euros so far on his campaign, and will spend an additional 40,000. He is also providing his own financing. 1 for 7 Billion sees this type of disclosure as a critical step towards transparency. 

17:21: Kerim is asked how important it is that the next SG come from Eastern Europe. He responds that all other appointments at the UN are based on regional rotation--why not the appointment of the Secretary-General?

17:36: The President of the GA comes forward to answer press questions. He notes the widespread participation of member states in the hearings process, and the "frank" discussion that took place on the UN's merits and flaws. 

17:39: The PGA discusses the participation of civil society in this process, and highlights the contribution of the 1 for 7 Billion campaign! 

17:40: On whether or not this process will make a real difference, the PGA argues that it has all the potential to affect the final outcome. He hopes the media will follow up on candidates and "join the conversation".

17:42: Asked whether the General Assembly should have a straw poll on the candidates, the PGA says that member states must discuss how they will use the hearings to inform the appointment process. 

17:44: "It was possible to get an impression on the viewpoints of each and every candidate," the PGA says of the hearings, but emphasizes that the media should follow up on the candidates in the coming months. We agree that the media has a crucial role to play. 

17:48: The PGA says it would be "unfair" to change the format of the hearings in a possible second round. 

17:51: Asked about disclosure of campaign financing, the PGA expresses his support. He feels it is an issue for the media to address.

17:52: With that, the UN's first ever hearings process comes to an end! 

Photo: Candidate for Next Secretary-General Addresses Member States. Copyright UN Photo/ Rick Bajornas.