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ACT position paper on outstanding issues regarding selection and appointment of the next Secretary-General of the United Nations in 2016


ACT[1] position paper on outstanding issues regarding selection and appointment of the next Secretary-General of the United Nations in 2016

UN Member States, the President of the General Assembly, civil society, the wider international community and media have been engaged in advocating for increased transparency in the process for selecting the next UN Secretary-General, as a way of finding the best possible person to lead this organization. The aim is to create a more inclusive process with wider ownership and to strengthen the institution of the Secretary-General by making it more representative. While it is important to change perceptions regarding the selection process, it is even more important to make actual changes to bring the process into line with present day expectations.

The main objectives outlined in the initial ACT position paper from March 2015 – which called for increased transparency, inclusiveness and a more rigorous process in selecting the next chief of the Organization – became closer to reality as a result of the General Assembly revitalization resolution 69/321. The remaining months until the appointment of the next Secretary-General should be used for constructive discussions among Member States as well as close cooperation between the Presidents of the General Assembly and of the Security Council for full implementation of resolution 69/321. We should also make sure any further outstanding issues are dealt with without delay.

ACT – with the purpose to enhance the selection process – makes the following proposals and draws attention to the outstanding issues for the remainder of the appointment process in 2016:


  • ACT hopes that the joint letter of 15 December 2015 by the Presidents of the General Assembly and of the Security Council generates positive results and that many qualified candidates will be put forward at the earliest, ideally allowing the informal dialogues and meetings to be wrapped up by July. In this context ACT also strongly encourages Member States to nominate female candidates.
  • ACT welcomes the value added by various stakeholders, including civil society, in searching for suitable candidates at their own initiative as an input for Member States´ consideration.
  • ACT calls on all candidates to participate in all elements of the selection process, as this will strongly increase their legitimacy.

Selection Process, Informal Meetings with the candidates:

  • The General Assembly should play an active role in the selection process, in accordance with the UN Charter, resolution 69/321, and other relevant decisions.
  • For ACT the informal dialogues and meetings with the candidates are a key part of the selection process. We expect all candidates to take part in these meetings. Both the General Assembly and the Security Council have an important role to play in making sure these meetings serve their purpose. Subject to the format decided, ACT and its members will engage actively in the meetings, put forward questions to the candidates and would like to hear their vision for the position of the Secretary-General. ACT encourages candidates to circulate a document outlining her or his policy priorities in advance.
  • ACT calls for ensuring that civil society can participate in the informal dialogues and meetings with the candidates and also encourages candidates themselves to interact with civil society organizations.
  • ACT encourages regular public briefings by the Security Council to update the wider membership on developments in the nomination process.
  • ACT calls for ensuring sufficient time between the nomination by the Security Council and the decision on appointment by the General Assembly.
  • The selection process should be finalized as early as possible, preferably three months prior to the assumption of the office by the next Secretary-General.

Identification and Appointment:

  • In identifying the best candidate for appointment, due regard should be given to fair geographical distribution through rotation, and to gender balance.
  • ACT recalls the prerogative of the General Assembly to draft the final resolution for the appointment of the Secretary-General. ACT also encourages the General Assembly to look into substantiating the appointment resolution, including on the term of office of the Secretary-General.
  • In line with the Charter provisions and the oath taken by the Secretary-General, ACT believes that the Secretary-General should exercise independence in the selection of senior officials.

Term in Office:

  • ACT would appreciate a thorough discussion on the term of office of the Secretary-General and the case to be made for a longer, single non-renewable term in appointing Secretaries-General.



[1] Accountability, Coherence and Transparency – a cross-regional group of 25 States: Austria, Chile, Costa Rica, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Gabon, Ghana, Hungary, Ireland, Jordan, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Maldives, New Zealand, Norway, Papua New Guinea, Peru, Portugal, Rwanda, Saudi Arabia, Slovenia, Sweden, Switzerland, Uruguay



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