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Selecting the Next UN Secretary-General  

UN Security council

UN Security Council

The search for a new Secretary-General of the United Nations is underway and so far 12 individuals are being considered for one of the world’s most important leadership positions.

This month, the School of Diplomacy and International Relations’ Center for United Nations and Global Governance Studies is co-sponsoring a panel discussion entitled “Selecting the Secretary-General: Process, Politics and Potential.” The discussion will focus on the process underway for identifying and determining who will be the next Secretary-General of the United Nations. A distinguished group of UN-scholars will explore the innovations taking place in the search to fill this unique and influential global position. The panel will provide an opportunity for discussion among practitioners and the larger community who are interested in UN leadership. The public is invited to attend, this free event, which takes place on August 15, from 6:30- 8:00 p.m. at the Great Hall of the NYC Bar Association. To register, click here.

Mogens Lykketoft, President of the UN General Assembly

Mogens Lykketoft, President of the UN General Assembly

School of Diplomacy Sharkey Scholar, Hugh Dugan will moderate the panel. An international affairs expert and career diplomat, Dugan served at the U.S. Department of State for 32 years, most recently under Secretary of State John Kerry. 

Scheduled speakers include Mogens Lykketoft, President of the UN General Assembly, Lucia Mouat, author of “The United Nations’ Top Job: A Close Look at the Work of Eight Secretaries-General,” and Edward Luck, Professor of Professional Practice in International and Public Affairs at Columbia University, former Special Advisor to the UN Secretary-General, and a former Sharkey Scholar at Seton Hall University. 

In recent years, selection of the Secretary-General, which is led by the president of the General Assembly, has become a more open and transparent process, welcoming nominations of highly-qualified candidates from around the world.

In a letter circulated to UN Member States, Mr. Lykketoft said, “Convinced of the need to guarantee equal opportunities for women and men in gaining access to senior decision-making positions, Member States are encouraged to consider presenting women, as well as men, as candidates for the position of Secretary-General.”

Once the Security Council recommends a nominee out of the pool of candidates submitted by any of the 193 UN Member States, the nominee is then presented to the General Assembly for approval. 

Martin Edwards, Ph.D., Associate Professor at the School of Diplomacy and Director of the Center for United Nations and Global Governance Studies, said that changes in the selection process have been, “quietly revolutionary.” Adding that, “it is our role as scholars to reflect on these changes: in what ways have they mattered and what do they mean for the UN moving forward?”

Among the Secretary-General’s duties, he or she is tasked with attending sessions of United Nations bodies, consulting with world leaders and government officials, and staying informed on the issues of international concern on the Organization’s agenda. The United Nations also describes the Secretary-General as “Chairman of the United Nations System Chief Executives Board for Coordination (CEB), which brings together the Executive Heads of all UN funds, programs and specialized agencies twice a year in order to further coordination and cooperation in the entire range of substantive and management issues facing the United Nations System.”

Ban Ki Moon

Ban Ki-moon, UN Secretary-General

In the past, the UN has been led by Secretaries-General from countries including Ghana, Egypt, and Peru. Each Secretary-General is appointed for a five year term. Although none have served more than two terms, there is technically no limit to the number of terms a Secretary-General can serve. The second term of the current Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, a UN member representing South Korea, ends this year. So far, the official candidate pool includes six men and six women.  

The upcoming panel discussion is sponsored by the New York City Bar Association’s United Nations Committee, Task Force on Good Governance in the Secretary-General Selection, the Center for United Nations and Global Governance Studies at Seton Hall University, Leitner Center for International Law and Justice, and Fordham University School of Law. 

Categories: Law , Nation and World

For more information, please contact:

  • Gwen Debenedetto
  • (973) 275-2562
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