For the first time in history of the United Nations all member states will get a chance to question the candidates for secretary-general, in a move designed to make the usually secret selection process for the world’s top diplomatic post more transparent. The eight hopefuls for one of the world’s most high-profile jobs will also hold town hall meetings with the UN General Assembly in New York on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.
They will each pitch their credentials and then answer questions in a two-hour session. Last year, the General Assembly responded to a demand from many countries that Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s successor be chosen in a more open process, unanimously adopting a resolution allowing public hearings on how candidates would respond to global crises and run the UN’s far-flung bureaucracy.
The search for a successor to Ban – a former South Korean foreign minister who will step down at the end of the year after two five-year terms – has also prompted a push by more than a quarter of UN states for the first female leader.
While the 15-member Security Council will formally recommend a candidate to the 193-member General Assembly, the General Assembly vote has long been seen as a rubber stamp. Nations with veto powers – the US, Russia, Britain, China and France – must agree on the nominee. As part of the changes introduced by the General Assembly last year, the list of candidates has been made public for the first time, with nomination letters and even the candidate’s CVs posted online.