Unofficial Record of the 27 April Debate on the Appointment of the Secretary-General

28 April 2015

 On the 27th of April, 2015, member states of the United Nations held a thematic debate on the appointment procedures for the UN Secretary-General and other executive heads. The meeting was part of the negotiation process of the "Ad Hoc Working Group on the Revitalization of the General Assembly," which is expected to result in a General Assembly resolution this September.

 Click here to view WFM-IGP's unofficial record of the debate. The record, as well as the following summary, have been compiled from a combination of observer and participant accounts. Please contact maresca@wfm-igp.org if we have incorrectly described a government's position.  

In total, there were thirty three speakers during the debate. The list included speakers on behalf of key groupings of member states (the European Union; the Non-Aligned Movement; the Accountability, Coherence, and Transparency (ACT) group; the Community of Latin American States; and the Eastern European group) as well as all five permanent members of the Security Council.

 

Major Proposals

There was almost unanimous support for member states to have opportunities to interact and exchange views with candidates. A variety of forms for these interactions were suggested, including hearings in the General Assembly, meetings in the Security Council, and Arria formula meetings.

There was also considerable support for other procedures to improve transparency, such as a timeline and an official candidate list. Many states expressed interest in a proposal from the Accountability, Coherence, Transparency (ACT) group to begin the process with a joint letter from the Presidents of the General Assembly and Security Council. The letter would include a call for candidates with a deadline for nominations, and would be issued by the end of 2015.

Most member states emphasized that gender equality should be considered when selecting the next Secretary-General, and several stated that the time has come for a woman to hold the post.

Many member states noted that the appointment of the Secretary-General should reflect the best practices in the appointment procedures for UN programs and other international organizations. Given that the heads of other international organizations have adopted selection criteria for their executive heads, it is possible that member states will interpet this language as an opening for a discussion of selection criteria for the Secretary-General. 

There was an unexpected level of support for a single, non-renewable term for the Secretary-General, as several speakers noted that GA resolution 51/241 requires the General Assembly to consider the issue. Many member states, particularly those from the global South, also suggested that more than one candidate ought to be recommended by the Security Council for the General Assembly to debate.

Several member states noted that civil society had taken an interest in the appointment procedures for the Secretary-General, and three noted the “1 for 7 Billion” campaign in their statements.

Unlike previous Working Group debates, the issue of campaign promises made by candidates in exchange for support was also raised during the debate. While some explicitly mentioned these promises, others noted with concern that certain high level positions are consistently held by individuals of the same nationality.