UN: NGO disappointed with Security Council on UN top job selection

New York, US (PANA) - A New York-based non-governmental organisation (NGO) has expressed dismay with the result of the first straw poll by the UN Security Council on the 12 candidates vying for the UN Secretary-General position.

The NGO, Campaign to Elect a Woman UN Secretary-General, had before the straw poll urged the Security Council members to consider a woman in their selection process, noting that its call was supported by hundreds of NGOs across the world, many UN member states, individual members of civil society, and many world leaders.  

"The selection of the next Secretary-General is a critical choice for the UN and the world. We share your commitment to find the best candidate - an experienced diplomat, skillful manager, thoughtful mediator and compelling speaker and advocate, a leader of stature who can represent the UN to the world at its best, work well with UN member states and embody the core UN principles of peace, justice, development and human rights," it said.

In its first letter, tagged: 'We Have Had 8 Male Secretaries-General And Our 9th Should Be A Woman', the NGO argued that the Council's choice would send a dramatic message to the world.

"To that end, we urge you to select a woman with all the qualities above and, as well, a demonstrated and sustained commitment to gender equality," the NGO appealed.

The Security Council members on 21 July held the first straw poll for the 12 candidates in a closed-door session.The poll was supposed to identify to what extent each candidate was supported by Council members using three categories: "encourage", "discourage", and "no opinion".

But, the NGO in an open letter on Tuesday, a copy made available to PANA in New York, stated: "The Woman SG Campaign is dismayed to learn that only one woman, Ms. Irina Bokova of Bulgaria, placed in the top five. The results of the poll demonstrate that there is still work to be done to make sure the first woman Secretary-General is appointed this year.

"Even though the results were not initially made public by the current President of the Security Council, Ambassador Koro Bessho of Japan, they were leaked immediately and we are disappointed with the result and our appeal for a change to the Security Council members to have a woman UN secretary-general for the first time is being ignored.

"Echoing UN General Assembly President Morgen Lykketoft’s call for openness and transparency, we are collecting qualifying signatures for our Open Letter to the United Nations Security Council from the Woman SG Campaign.

"Selecting a woman as Secretary-General is an important step in overcoming traditional barriers that have barred women from holding the UN's top post for the duration of its 71-year lifespan," the NGO noted.

It also stressed the need for more support from individuals, NGOs, organizations and world leaders, "to the campaign in this critical hour, and we need your support in order to show the Security Council members that they must listen to the people, whom the UN is intended to represent."

"After seventy years and eight male leaders in succession, the choice of a woman would send a signal of transformation and would be an important step in correcting a gender bias of many decades.

"It will galvanize renewed action to implement existing commitments to women's rights and opportunities. It may bring different approaches to UN leadership and new perspectives to the immense challenges of global governance today. It would renew and inspire interest and support of the UN from the larger public," the NGO stated.

The 15 Council members decided not to reveal the results of their voting under the "encourage", "discourage", and "no opinion" about the 12 candidates, unlike the informal straw polls 10 years ago, which were made public and led to South Korea's Ban Ki-moon election to the world's top diplomatic post.

Despite the Council's efforts at secrecy, the results quickly leaked out.

PANA learnt that, Portugal's former prime minister Antonio Guterres, who had served as UN High Commissioner for Refugees until the end of last year, received 12 "encourage" votes and three "no opinion" votes to top the poll followed by Slovenia's former president Danilo Turk, while three candidates had the same support for third place, namely Ms. Irina Bokova of Bulgaria who heads the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), Serbia's former foreign minister Vuk Jeremic and former Macedonian foreign minister Srgjan Kerim.

Ms. Bokova got nine "encourage" votes, the highest number for one of the six women candidates.

New Zealand's former prime minister Helen Clark, who is current Administrator of the UN Development Programme (UNDP), was in fourth place with eight "encourage" votes.

Argentina's Foreign Minister, Ms. Susanna Malcorra, and a former chief of staff to Ban who was expected to be a leading contender, was behind Ms. Clark.

Three other candidates at the bottom of the list were Ms. Christiana Figueres of Costa Rica, who is former Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), and had played a key role in shaping last December's historic Paris agreement on climate change, former Moldovan Foreign Minister Natalia Gherman and Montenegro's Foreign Minister Igor Luksic.

There has never been a woman UN secretary-general and a group of 56 nations and numerous NGOs are campaigning for the first female UN chief.

The 12 candidates include six men and six women - eight from Eastern Europe, two from Latin America, one from Western Europe and one from the Asia-Pacific region.

The UN secretary-general is appointed by the UN General Assembly on the recommendation of the Security Council.

However, the secretary-general's selection is subject to the veto of any of the five permanent members of the Security Council, namely China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the US.
-0-  PANA  AA/AR  26July2016

26 july 2016 17:27:44

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