Vuk Jeremić - 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.

Thursday 14 April - live from the General Assembly in New York

09:00: Vuk Jeremić (Serbia)

09:07: Jeremić thanks the President of the General Assembly for conducting this unprecedented selection process in the spirit of "openness, transparency and inclusivity"

09:09: Jeremić presents his Vision Statement, explaining that he sees this document as an opportunity for dialogue, rather than a conclusive platform.

09:13: On human rights, Jeremić says he would ensure more resources were available for the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and would strengthen early warning systems to prevent atrocity crimes and institute a cross-departmental task force on this issue

09:16: Jeremić  declares that as SG he would "relentlessly fight corruption, protect whistle-blowers and support oversight measures"

09:17: Jeremić makes bold claim for gender parity, explaining that "I would ensure we had 50% female USGs from day one"

09:18: Algeria states that appointment processes for senior appointments are opaque and need to be revitalised.  Also, asks how Jeremić would avoid pressures from powerful countries who wish to occupy the top posts noting, to date, no SG has been immune to such pressures

09:21: Thailand on behalf of G77 and China, reiterates Algeria's point about unfair distribution of senior appointments, asking how Jeremić could bring better geographical distribution and ensure developing countries are represented in the top posts.  1 for 7 Billion is urging the next SG to stand for a single, non-renewable term which would give them greater independence to make senior appointments based on merit

09:24: EU asks good question about experience, asking Jeremić to explain how his past professional experience equips him with adequate management skills for this role

09:28: Brazil on behalf of the G4 asks if the UN can be considered fit for purpose without Security Council reform

09:29: Jeremić says he intends to take geographic and gender balance in top appointments very seriously, pointing out that he feels ASEAN are especially under-represented in top posts

09:31: Jeremić : "The SG should be a person with spine...but someone who will use their courage wisely"

09:33: Jeremić: I intend to instruct the entire UN system to putsustainable development at the centre of their agenda...this will include annual SDGs reviews.  At the end of the 21st century's second decade I want to see a more equitable world

09:36: Jeremić proposes significant additional funding to the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights with a budget increase of 50% each year

09:40: Jeremić's vision for securing more resources for the UN includes an intention to appoint a new high profile emergency relief coordinator and a special envoy tasked with increasing funding from the private sector

09:41: Jeremić states that his experience as Foreign Minister will help with the management tasks that he would face as SG "we must be leaner, cheaper, better value for money"

09:43: Great question from St Vincent and the Grenadines on behalf of CARICOM: "what kind of leadership is needed today and why should you be entrusted to provide that leadership?"

09:45: Sierra Leone on behalf of the Group of Friends in Favour of a Women Candidate points out that only 25% of USGs are women and asks "what specific steps would you take to improve the gender balance in top level appointments?" and also "do you support the idea of regional rotation for the SG position?"  1 for 7 Billion is calling for a merit based appointment irrespective of region

09:49: UK continues their novel initiative, incorporating questions from Twitter on the refugee situation - a great way of getting the public involved in the process

09:52: ACT asks: "Have you any concrete ideas for how we can include accountability and transparency across the UN's pillars of work?"

09:56: Jeremić : "If you believe in business as usual, I am not your guy...I intend to be a hands-on Secretary-General - Article 99 is a tool that the SG must keep ready"

09:59: Jeremić explains he would create a new generation of UN stabilization missions with more robust rules of engagement and better combat logistics, including sea and air support, ready to deploy in the Middle East, North Africa and elsewhere

10:02: Responding to the states that want a female SG, Jeremić notes that "he is not female" and hopes that he can still "be their friend" explaining that "this election needs to be a turning point for gender representation in the UN".  As well as 50/50 parity from day one for senior appointments,Jeremić commits to appointing a female DSG and to making his preference as to the identity of this person known prior to Security Council SG elections

10:07: Jeremić acknowledges desire for regional representation, but refreshingly states that in the end it should be the "best man or women for the job wherever we go, what ever we do".  The 1 for 7 Billion campaign supports such a statement in line with merit-based appointments irrespective of gender, region and background

10:15: Important question from Australia and Canada: "what would you do to reverse the negative direction that the UN is going in with regards to civil society engagement?"

10:25: Jeremić says that the UN cannot be fit for purpose without much greater attention to cyber issues

10:28: Jeremić declares that now is the time to act to ensure the Paris Climate and SDG agreements do not just become "dead pieces of paper"

10:32: Great civil society question from Australian NGO leader: "How do you ensure civil society is supported and not further eroded?" followed by a question on rule of law from an American educational NGO

10:34: Jeremić: "I will work hard to achieve a consistent standard of civil society inclusion across UN bodies...I run a civil society organisation right now"

10:37: Japan: "you are young, like John F. Kennedy,  on your first day at the podium as SG, what message would we hear from you?"

10:40: Liechtenstein: "More than any candidate, you placegreater emphasis on atrocity prevention, but what about accountability when crimes have been committed?"

10:43: Costa Rica asks Jeremić for his views on the next Secretary-General standing for a single, non-renewable 7 year term of office - something that Jeremić has supported in the past.  This is a key proposal advanced by the 1 for 7 Billion campaign - it would be great to hear Jeremić publicly support this reform during his GA hearing

10:50: Hungary asks simply: "why does the world need the UN today?" Cyprus then asks "why are you the best person for the job?"  two great (and concise) questions

10:54: On international justice, Jeremić cities his experience as President of the General Assembly on this issue although concedes that, with hindsight, he wished he'd done more

10:59: In response to "why do we need the UN?" Jeremić remarks "there's no other way, there's no other place!"

11:00: Jeremić announces that he will create (yet more!) new positions at the UN, this time on peacekeeping, including a new USG for the "care of duty and discipline"

11:06: Jeremić says my favourite quote comes from Martin Luther King about the moral arch of the universe: "it is long, but in the end, it bends towards justice" and with that, Jeremić concludes his hearing.  Shame that Jeremić failed to respond to Costa Rica's question on the single term.

11:18: Press conference

11:19: Q 1: what will a young candidate like you bring to the job?  A: Commitment and readiness to engage is what it required.  "I'll be a hands on SG"

11:21: Jeremić says he would work with members states first and foremost - no mention of the value he places in working with civil society and members of the public though

11:22: Jeremić responds to a Q about his commitment to Responsibility to Protect by saying he would create and chair a specialised inter-agency task force on early warning

11:24: Jeremić responds to good question from Inner City Press on corruption and campaign financing, by reiterating his support for protecting whistle-blowers and strengthening the Office for Internal Oversight

11:27: Very positive statement from Jeremić on campaign financing: Jeremić concedes that his campaign only started yesterday, saying "I intend to fund raise for the position and not take money from governments...I will disclose where this money comes from"

Photo: Candidate for Next UN Secretary-General Briefs Press. Copyright UN Photo/ Rick Bajornas.