Debate Over U.N. Secretary-General Candidacy Continues


On Monday, Sept. 26, 2016, the fifth round of straw polling was conducted by 15 nations revealing a continued debate over the candidacy for the next secretary-general of the United Nations (UN). The rules dictate that the successor is voted in by the General Assembly comprised of all 193 member states, but it is the 15 Security Council members who conduct a series of polls in order to determine who will be on the short list. This process has not gone without controversy.

The individual who will follow in Ban Ki-moon’s footsteps will inherent some major world issues that will need to be addressed such as terrorism, the refugee crisis, the South China Sea as well as a host of other concerns. This is perhaps why the debate for candidacy of the next UN secretary-general continues. This election cycle may be drawing more attention than previous years due to a large number of candidates. In the election where Ki-moon won the position, there were only four people to poll for during the first round. This is in contrast to the twelve individuals that participated in the first round this year.


There has been communication that the United States would like a woman to take the role and Russia is pushing for an individual from eastern Europe to take the position. There are individuals who fall into both these camps on the ballot. This last week there was a letter from Bulgaria to nominate Kristalina Georgieva. Georgieva is an economist and the European Union’s budget chief. Questions have been raised about whether Bulgaria can make a second nomination and whether she can join the election process this late in the game. There is evidence that nations’ have been allowed a second nomination in the past and that individuals have been admitted late, but those with vetoing power could negate any effort if she is not well-received. Georgieva would “hypothetically” satisfy both the U.S. and Russia’s preferences.

At this point, the leader in the straw polls is António Guterres with twelve encourages, two no opinions, and one discourage. Guterres is the former Portuguese Prime Minister and UN High Commissioner. At this point, the top four candidates are men so the U.S. has an uphill battle ahead of itself to retain a candidate possessing their desired criteria. Those following the elections may have noticed a lack of familiar figures. A difference from past elections worth noting is that all candidates have Twitter accounts, an interesting note considering Ki-moon still does not have one.

The number of candidates for the position of secretary-general is expected to drop significantly after the next straw polling on Oct. 5, 2016. After this poll, it should be much more clear who the five Security Council members with vetoing power will have decided to present to the General Assembly. The candidate that is elected by the General Assembly will take the position on Jan 1, 2017.

As the debate continues over which candidate will hold the position of UN secretary-general for the next five years, Ki-moon continues to focus on issues like the turmoil surrounding the elections in Somalia. Ki-moon will leave his position with mixed feelings. Views of his tenure range from great leader to serving with “blandness.” There is no question that the next secretary-general is taking over at a crucial time in many of the world’s conflicts.

By Joel Wickwire


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Independent:  UN Secretary-General Election: Claims of Dirty Tricks and Backstabbing Mar Search for Ban Ki-moon’s Successor

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Top and Feature Images Courtesy of Monette Iyan’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License

Inline Image Courtesy of Ministerie van Buitenlandse’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License

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