“The URG is pleased to publish today a human rights-based assessment of the candidates competing to fill the post of UN Secretary-General. The new policy brief ‘Candidates for the post of UN Secretary-General: where do they stand on human rights?’ presents an overview of the selection and appointment procedures of the UN Secretary-General, as well as a summary of each candidate’s experience, commitments, and pledges/vision in the area of human rights. Because human rights is one of the three pillars of the UN system, it is vital that States take this information into account while selecting the best individual for this vital post.”

Candidates“The role of the Secretary-General of the United Nations (UN) is crucial for the fulfilment of this organisation’s objectives and purposes. The Secretary-General is the chief administrative officer of the UN and, as such, holds the responsibility of administrating all the UN programmes and agencies, performing all the functions entrusted by the different UN bodies, and bringing to the attention of the Security Council those issues that may represent a threat to international peace and security. According to the website of the current Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, ‘equal parts diplomat and advocate, civil servant and CEO, the Secretary-General is a symbol of United Nations ideals and a spokesperson for the interests of the world’s peoples, in particular the poor and vulnerable among them.’

The UN Secretary-General is expected to promote the fulfilment of the UN’s objectives across all of its three main pillars, namely peace and security, development, and human rights. Accordingly, on the last pillar mentioned, the Secretary-General should ensure that the UN fulfils its promise, as per the Charter, to ‘promot[e] and encourag[e] respect for human rights and for fundamental freedoms for all’.

In late July 2016, the Security Council will begin deliberations on the candidates to be the next UN Secretary-General. According to article 97 of the UN Charter, the leading candidate will then be ‘appointed by the General Assembly upon the recommendation of the Security Council.’ The Security Council’s deliberations are held in private and any decision is subject to veto by the five permanent members.

The appointment procedure of the UN Secretary-General has been the focus of regular criticism due to its lack of transparency and inclusivity, especially in the context of such an important post. Over recent years, dissatisfaction has coalesced around a campaign known as ‘1 for 7 billion,’ which has called for a more open, transparent, and meritocratic selection process. Together with parallel initiatives, such as reports and draft resolutions generated by the UN Ad-Hoc Working Group on ‘the revitalisation of the work of the General Assembly,’ the ‘1 for 7 billion’ campaign became a ‘driving force’ behind moves at the UN to reform the Secretary-General selection process.”


UN Sec-Gen CandidatesResources