New Secretary-General and Reforms at The United Nations

The General Assembly of United Nations (UN) is now on the hunt to find the best candidate for the position of Secretary-General (SG), which is the principal executive position at the UN. As always, this position requires the highest standards of efficiency, competence and integrity.  In addition, the SG should be truly impartial, and must show significant experience in international affairs. All these requirements make the selection process very stringent, and as such there have been some suggestions to make the elected person be in office for more than  five years as the current term of five years is seen as a constraint in making bold decisions.

The SG is has a critical role in peace-making efforts across the world, and therefore the selection process must be more open and transparent. In fact, the name of all the potential candidates considered for the office must be published and live debates encouraged. In addition, after the UN Security Council (UNSC) gets involved, the election process shouldn?t become opaque and all efforts must be made to make it as transparent as possible.  The process for creating more transparency in SG election was initiated by the current President of the UN General Assembly, Mogens Lykketoft.

Many experts in international relations believe that the UN?s authority and effectiveness have been weakened in the recent years. In 2015 at Munich Security Conference, a series of proposals were discussed to address the current and future issues at the organisation including the transparent and inclusive selection process for the SG.  In addition to the discussion on the SG selection process, the conference also had – a pledge taken by UNSC members to not use their veto to prevent actions against mass atrocities; and an expansion of UNSC to include new ?semi-permanent? members.  The general consensus at the conference was that UN must revitalise as the most important organisation for bringing world peace and security, and thereby assuring its effectiveness in the 21st century.

The selection of ninth SG is a moment of truth.  As the UNSC, one of the most powerful bodies on earth, begins its own deliberation on candidates for the role of SG, expectations are high among member nations that the five permanent members of UNSC must look after all considerations, including regional rotation and gender, to select the best candidate.  The usual process is that after the UNSC sends its preferred list of candidates to the General Assembly, all the 193 member nations deliberate and appoint the new. Let us hope the new SG is more capable of building harmony and unity than ever before, and shows real moral leadership, while at the same time giving the UN member nations confidence and credibility for lasting peace in our times.

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