Secretary-General Selection

UNReformWatch No. 19

by Lydia Swart
2 October 2006 - updated 13 October

Ban Ki-moon's acceptance speech at the General Assembly
13 October 2006

Overview of Candidates and Straw Polls Results 13 October 2006

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On October 13, 2006, the General Assembly appointed by acclamation H.E. Mr. Ban Ki-moon of the Republic of Korea as the next UN Secretary General starting 1 January 2007. All other candidates had withdrawn previously. Ban Ki-moon was the only candidate who had received the support of all five permanent members of the Security Council. Outgoing Secretary General H.E. Mr. Kofi Annan congratulated H.E. Mr. Ban Ki-moon on his designation and Security Council Member States on having reached an early decision with an increasingly transparent modus operandi. He added that while this job has been defined as the most impossible job on earth it is also the best possible one and wished to Ban Ki-moon much strength, courage and sense of humour.

In his acceptance speech, H.E. Mr. Ban Ki-moon thanked Member States for their trust. He added that never before has a Secretary General been given such a long time to prepare for the job and that he will use these two months to consult widely with Member States on how to proceed on the reform and the revitalization of the organization. He promised to follow the Asian practice "to get things done without much fanfare" and suggested that the organization should be more modest in its promises but not in what it delivers. H.E. Mr Ban Ki-moon also pledged that he is determined to manage the organization in a transparent and inclusive way.

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The Selection Process

The Secretary General is appointed to a renewable five-year term by the General Assembly on the recommendation of the Security Council. The secretary general's selection is therefore subject to the veto of any of the five permanent members of the Security Council. By convention, the position of U.N. Secretary General rotates by geographic region and most Secretaries General have been compromise candidates from small or middle powers. Accordingly, Europe produced three secretaries general, Africa two, Latin America and Asia one. There has been no secretary general from North America, however it is anticipated that the post will go next to Asia.

In mid-July, the Security Council started the process of consideration of those candidacies which were presented to its President by a member State. The Security Council is currently conducting straw-polling of officially nominated candidates. There are no votes at this stage, candidates are instead "encouraged" or "discouraged." Member States can also abstain by expressing "no opinion" on the candidates being examined. The polling results will be shared with all Security Council members as well as with the candidate and the Permanent Representative of the State proposing a candidate. To date, the results have not indicated where specific Security Council members stand towards each candidate.

More on the UN Secretary General Selection Process

Center's Interviews with Official Candidates

Ban-Ki Moon (Republic of Korea)
Shashi Tharoor (India) Has conceded
Surakiart Sathirathai (Thailand)Has withdrawn
Prince Zeid Ra'ad Zaid Al-Hussein (Jordan) Has withdrawn
Jayantha Dhanapala (Sri Lanka) Has withdrawn
Vaike Vike-Freiberga (Latvia) Has withdrawn
Ashraf Ghani (Afghanistan) Has withdrawn

Center for UN Reform's Panel Discussion on Secretary General Selection June 21, 2006

More on the Selection Process []