UN experts release briefings on the UN Secretary-General selection process

One World Trust has provided 1 for 7 Billion with a series of briefings on the UN Secretary-General selection process. The six briefings are written by scholars from around the world who are members of the Academic Council on the United Nations System (ACUNS), with a view to making the appointment process more open, inclusive and accountable.

The first, by MJ Peterson, explores the institutional context of appointing a UN leader. Peterson considers that while traditionally, Secretaries-General were chosen in secret by the five most powerful states, recent reforms have injected transparency and accountability into the process and "the relation between the Security Council which chooses and the General Assembly which affirms is shifting".

Loraine Sievers examines the relevance of the informal principle of regional rotation, looking at the UN’s early decades to explore how this practice became an established concept in the Secretary-General selection process and what this means today for Eastern Europe – the only region yet to have produced a UN leader.

The third briefing in the series, by Ellen Jenny Ravndal, is centred on the appointment of the first UN Secretary-General, Trygve Lie. Ravndal details the stark contrast between the 1946 process and today’s, providing a comprehensive account of Lie’s election and re-election:

Indeed, the process of 1946 reflected different values and norms than those dominant in 2016 discussions. In 1946 the General Assembly explicitly asked the Security Council to recommend only one candidate and expressed its preference that there should be no public debate or voting on the issue.

The fourth briefing, by Tina Bertrand, analyses the appointment of Ban Ki-moon in 2006, examining the political context, the issues at stake and why the candidate from South Korea was the unanimous choice of the UN Security Council. She also considers the successes of Ban Ki-moon and his legacy as Secretary-General.

In the fifth briefing, Kirsten Haack explores how the campaign to select the next Secretary-General has advanced the principle of representation at the United Nations - a step towards improved accountability within the Organization. 

In the final briefing, Hugh Dugan considers how the role of civil society in the reformed process signals "a break in standing protocol" at the UN General Assembly. You can read more about where Secretary-General candidates stand on civil society participation here. 

9 August 2016 - two more briefings published

Published in July, two further background briefings produced by the One World Trust are now available on the 1 for 7 Billion website. 

The first report, by Tom Buitelaar, considers how the more open, inclusive process to select the UN Secretary-General could affect the relationship between the successful candidate and the Security Council. The brief concludes with a number of policy recommendations that seek to mitigate some of the potentially negative impacts on this relationship.

The second report, written by AE Benvenutto , explores the question: can the appointment processes of senior positions in UN agencies provide ideas for how to make the selection of the Secretary-General more transparent and accountable? The paper concludes that the UN should use examples of its own 'best practice' in senior appointments to further improve the method of appointing the Secretary-General. 

The above briefings and other useful documents can be found on the Resources page of the 1 for 7 Billion website.