July 2016

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July 2016 Unsubscribe
Latest Developments in UN Reform and Appointments:

Calls for More Transparency as the Security Council Holds First Straw Poll for Next Secretary-General

On 21 July, the Security Council held its first "straw poll" of candidates nominated to be the next Secretary-General. Since 1981, straw polls have been used by the Council to identify which candidates enjoy the widest support. By indicating whether they "encourage", "discourage", or have "no opinion" about each of the candidates, members of the Council can express their views without committing to a formal vote.

António Guterres, the former UN High Commissioner for Refugees, is believed to be the front-runner, followed closely by the former Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs, Danilo Türk. Notably, in a race with equal numbers of male and female candidates, only one woman-Irina Bokova of Bulgaria-ranked in the top five. For the complete results of the straw poll, visit 1for7billion.org.

Already, a second round of straw polls has been scheduled for 5 August. Ahead of the Council's vote, the World Federation of United Nations Associations has launched its own "public straw poll", allowing the public to guess how the candidates will fare on Friday. Click hereto take the survey.

As the Council begins to seriously consider the candidates, support has grown for further improvements to the appointment process. Earlier this month, the Elders group issued a statement calling for the next Secretary-General to be appointed for a non-renewable term in order to guarantee her or his independence. In late August, Member States will discuss how they will approach the appointment of the next Secretary-General, including whether the resolution of appointment should specify the length of term. UN Staff has expressed support for a Secretary-General who "shows leadership in intellect, empathy, and courage," as over a hundred staff members stated in an open letter this month.

The Council’s decision not to share the results of the straw polls with the General Assembly was particularly controversial this month, especially after the results were leaked to the media and spread online within hours after the poll took place. In a recent letter, the President of the General Assembly stated that "limiting the communication to the fact that the informal straw poll has taken place adds little value, and does not live up to the expectations of the membership."

Open Events Held with Secretary-General Candidates

Earlier this month, the President of the General Assembly arranged the first-ever "global town hall" with Secretary-General candidates, hosted by Al-Jazeera. Organized on the sidelines of the high-level thematic debate on human rights, the town hall sessions addressed a variety of issues. Visit Pass Blue to read more about how the candidates responded to questions during the event.

In July, Christiana Figueres (Costa Rica) became the twelfth candidate, and sixth female candidate, to enter the race. Following the announcement, the President of the General Assembly convened an "informal dialogue" or hearing, allowing both Member States and the general public to pose questions to the candidate. The 1 for 7 Billion campaign wrote live commentary during the hearing.

Security Council Holds Debate on its Working Methods

On 19 July the Security Council held an open debate to discuss its working methods. The meeting, convened by Japan as part of its July presidency, focused on reviewing the implementation of Presidential Note 507, which was adopted 10 years ago this month and contained many provisions aimed to improve the efficiency, transparency and effectiveness of the Council. Japan, as chair of the informal working group on documentation and procedure, is planning a review of the note, along with the subsequent presidential notes adopted on working methods over the last ten years.

During the meeting, many speakers highlighted the changes in the process of selection of the next Secretary-General as an example of positive measures towards transparency. Many non-Council members also urged the Council to continue in this spirit and share the results of the straw polls with the broader UN membership.

Better collaboration with non-council members was discussed further, specifically regarding better and more frequent consultation with troop & police contributing countries and countries affected by sanctions regimes that are governed by Council sanctions committees. Many speakers also mentioned the ACT Code of Conduct and French-Mexican initiative on the use of veto as ways to enhance the Council’s effectiveness and called for better preventative action by the Council.

Better cooperation with the ICC and Peacebuilding Commission was also mentioned by several speakers, and speakers such as Germany and India linked Council effectiveness with the need for structural reform of the body.

You can access the UN meeting summary here.

Hearings with Candidates for the Human Rights Council

On 22 July, a question and answer session was held with the candidates running for seats on the Human Rights Council. The event was organized by Amnesty International and the International Service for Human Rights (ISHR) and has been held in a similar format for the past five years.

Of the candidates running, 11 participated (Brazil, Croatia, Guatemala, Hungary, Iraq, Japan, Tunisia, the UK and USA), and eight declined or did not answer the invitation (China, Cuba, Egypt, Malaysia, Russia, Rwanda, Saudi Arabia, South Africa).

A summary of the event is available from ISHR,here, and you can also watch the entire session on the UN Web TV website.

Update on the Intergovernmental Negotiations on Security Council Reform

On 27 July, the General Assembly held a plenary meeting to adopt an oral statement on Security Council reform. The statement, which indicates that the "elements of convergence" developed during this year's Intergovernmental Negotiations on Security Council reform will be used to inform future deliberations, was adopted by consensus.

The elements of convergence address two of the five topics addressed by the Intergovernmental Negotiations: the size of an enlarged Security Council and working methods, and the relationship between the Security Council and the General Assembly. Most notably, the elements recommend that the size of the Security Council should be between 21 and 27 seats.


5 August: Second Straw Poll of Candidates for UN Secretary-General
Late August: Meeting to discuss a co-faciliation process for the GA resolution to appoint the next Secretary-General
13 September: Start of the 71st Regular Session of the General Assembly
20 September: Start of the General Debate of the 71st Session of the General Assembly
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