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Reinart: selecting UN Secretary-General should be more open, without the option of reappointment after the first term of office


Estonia in collaboration with Costa Rica, Finland and the UN Elders organised a side event of the UN General Assembly yesterday, focusing on selecting the next Secretary-General for the organisation.

Estonia was represented by Foreign Ministry’s Undersecretary Väino Reinart, who pointed out the achievements that have been made this past year to make the selection of Secretary-General more transparent. “UN member states, international community, civil society and media have put pressure on the UN so that after 70 years of secrecy, those outside the Security Council could also have an overview of the selection,” Reinart noted. “Currently everyone has an overview of the nine candidates for the position of Secretary-General. Public hearings with them also took place for the first time,” he said.

According to Reinart, the more open process unfortunately does not reflect from the attitude of the Security Council as they do not inform other UN members of the results. “The Security Council has to change with time as well and become more open, “he said.

Reinart also emphasized that the Secretary-General has to be independent in filling high-level UN positions. “Estonia supports removing the option of reappointment after first term to guarantee Secretary-General’s independence and to avoid the period of re-selection campaign,” he said.

In addition to Undersecretary Reinart, the President of Costa Rica Luis Guillermo Solis, the Foreign Minister of Finland Timo Soini and representatives of the UN Elders, former Finnish President Martti Ahtisaari and former PM of Norway Gro Harlem Brundtland, spoke at the event.

Estonia, together with Costa Rica, Finland and 25 other countries, belongs to the UN Security Council working methods ACT (Accountability, Coherence, Transparency Group) Group. The initiative, launched by Switzerland, is to make the UN Security Council’s decision-making and operational mechanisms more reliable, transparent and effective and give the member states an opportunity to be actively engaged in the process. In the past two years, Estonia, as the member of the ACT leading the issue of transparency, has been actively engaged in making the selection process of the UN Secretary-General more open.

A new UN Secretary-General will take office on 1 January 2017. The selection process will probably end in October.

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