The Secretary-General of the United Nations has to confront the most difficult and complex problems we face. He or she has the power to prevent wars through mediation, speak truth to power and push governments to take action on issues like climate change and human rights.
Seven billion people across the world are affected by his or her decisions. Yet the Secretary-General is chosen in secret, by just five countries, in an opaque and outdated process.
- There is no job description
- There is no public scrutiny of candidates
- The Security Council’s “shortlist” contains just one name
- Backroom deals can get you elected
- No woman has ever held the post
The UN has had excellent leaders but this has been despite, not because of, the process. Geared towards the least-objectionable, lowest common denominator candidate, the process falls far short of the UN’s own principles, current practice at other international organisations and basic recruitment standards.
In 2016 a new Secretary-General will be appointed. We have a unique opportunity to call for change. Most countries agree that the current process is unsuitable. The UN itself has overhauled other recruitment practices. We have reached a tipping point when change is both achievable and essential – for the UN’s credibility and ability to tackle the challenges we face.