NGOs challenge world leaders on opaque and outdated process to select UN Secretary-General

1 for 7 Billion's NGO partners from across the world have written to all UN Member States to call for an open, fair and inclusive process to select the best possible candidate for Secretary-General of the UN.

Signatories include: Avaaz, Amnesty International, CIVICUS, Equality Now, FEMNET, Forum Asia, Social Watch, Third World Network, Women’s Environment and Development Organization and the World Federation of UN Associations.

The letter coincides with the launch of the 1 for 7 Billion campaign, which is calling for an end to the secret deals and horse-trading that see five countries hold sway over an appointment that affects all the world’s people.

The appointment process has barely changed during the past 70 years. At present:

  • There is no timetable, no set of formal criteria and no proper scrutiny of candidates
  • The Security Council decides on the candidate in secret and produces just one name for the rest of the UN’s membership to rubberstamp
  • Each of the five permanent members (P5) can veto any candidate.
  • The current state of P5 relationships could result in a race to the bottom for the lowest-common denominator candidate
  • Backroom deals are not uncommon. States seek promises from candidates on other senior UN appointments
  • To date, no woman has ever held the post or been seriously considered for it

The process falls far short of the UN’s own standards and ideals, current practice at other international organisations and basic recruitment standards. Without reform, it risks undermining the credibility of the UN at a time when it is needed more than ever.

At the 1 for 7 Billion campaign, we are calling for:

  • A process that aims to produce the best possible candidate
  • Formal selection criteria that reflect best practice in equality and diversity
  • Greater transparency, including a clear timetable and official shortlist
  • Open sessions that enable all states, and other stakeholders, to interact with nominees and have input in the process
  • Candidates to submit vision statements and to undertake not to make promises on specific appointments prior to their confirmation
  • More than one candidate to be put forward by the Security Council
  • A single term of office to help the Secretary-General pursue longer-term aims without the disruption of re-election campaigning

Change at the UN does not happen overnight. Last time, reform efforts began far too late in the process. That is why 1 for 7 Billion has been launched now, in time to influence the next appointment, due in 2016.

Source: 1 for 7 Billion.