UN secretary-general post open for women; so far four are women out of eight official candidates, six from Eastern Europe Regional Group

11 Apr

Keffyalew Gebremedhin – The Ethiopia Observatory (TEO)

In the 70 years history of the United Nations, there seems to be movement now amongst the five veto power nations to go through a transparent process of selecting the secretary-general of the United Nations – man or woman.

Equally importantly, these victors of World War II are now agreed among themselves for the first time, so far, welcoming four woman candidates and it is possible one of them could be lucky.

We already know that the female candidates are:


    *   Helen Clark, Administrator of UNDP

    *   Irina Bokova, Director-General of UNESCO

    *   Natalia Gherman, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Moldova

    *   Vesna Pusić Minister of Foreign Affairs, Croatia

Male UNSG candidates
The male candidates are:

    *   António Guterres, UN High Commissioner for Refugees

    *   Srgjan Kerim, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Macedonia

    *   Igor Lukšić Minister of Foreign Affairs, Montenegro

    *   Danilo Turk, former Assistant Secretary General, UN Political Affairs Department

While all this is an important step, it seems to have come only late in the day. For the Organization, its guide is the Charter and in its Preamble it requires the United Nations to be guided and “reaffirm faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person, in the equal rights of men and women and of nations large and small,” which in many respects has been either egregiously ignored or violated.

As a former staff member of the United Nations, I am not impressed that the Organization that is supposed to lead in matters such as this has slacked, especially regarding the equality of all peoples – irrespective of gender, faith or color. On this, the United Nations has been let down with eight men secretaries-general being principal actors in international diplomacy in these past 70 years.

Surely, it is not the responsibility of the UN whoever runs it. The secretary-general, in addition to being “the chief administrative officer of the Organization” under Article 97 of the Charter, its Article 98 clearly states that he accomplishes tasks and functions entrusted to him by member states. That article reads:

    “The Secretary-General shall act in that capacity in all meetings of the General Assembly, of the Security Council, of the Economic and Social Council, and of the Trusteeship Council, and shall perform such other functions as are entrusted to him by these organs. The Secretary-General shall make an annual report to the General Assembly on the work of the Organization.”

In terms of the candidates home countries, striking is the fact that six of the eight candidates come from the Eastern European Regional Group (Bulgaria, Croatia, Moldova, Macedonia, Montenegro and Slovenia) and two are from the Western European Regional Group (New Zealand and Portugal). In both groups, these may create slight problem during the voting in the General Assembly.

Another important measure underway this time around is that between Tuesday April 12-14, 2016, each of the candidates will submit to a two hour interview by member states live transmitted on UN television moderated by President of the General Assembly Mogens Lykketoft.

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