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Race to become the next secretary-general

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 4/04/2016

THE RACE TO BECOME THE NEXT SECRETARY-GENERAL OF THE UNITED NATIONS

CURRENT SECRETARY-GENERAL

Career diplomat and former South Korean foreign minister Ban Ki-moon was formally nominated as the eighth secretary-general in October 2006, and took office on January 1, 2007. He was re-elected unopposed to a second term in 2011. He will retire from the top job on December 31 with his successor to be announced by the UN General Assembly at a sitting during the year.

WHAT IS THE JOB?

The secretary-general serves as the official mouthpiece and leader of the United Nations. While its stated responsibilities are vague, the UN says it is "equal parts diplomat and advocate, civil servant and CEO". Perhaps the most important role is the use of "good offices" - steps taken to prevent international disputes from arising, escalating and spreading. However, a secretary-general has the ability to define their own role while they are in office.

THE SELECTION PROCESS

Very few rules govern the selection process to become the next secretary-general however there are some general guidelines. A resolution adopted in 1946 stated it was "desirable" that the Security Council offers only one nominee for consideration to the General Assembly, meaning candidates are subject to the veto power of the five permanent members. These permanent fixtures, the United States, Russia, the United Kingdom, China and France, hold enormous power in selecting the next secretary-general however candidates from these nations are generally not considered to avoid further concentration of power within the United Nations.

REGIONAL ROTATIONS

While the secretary-general position tends to rotate through regions, again, it is not a fixed rule. The Eastern European group is the only body yet to have a secretary-general nominated. However, if no Eastern European candidate can be agreed upon by the Security Council, the Western European and Others Groups - that includes New Zealand and Australia - would be next in line as they haven't had a secretary-general nominated in more than 35 years.

WHEN DOES IT KICK OFF

As there is no formal process, shadow campaigns have already begun behind the scenes. Following calls for more transparency by an alliance of non-governmental organisations, the UN issued a joint letter on December 15 last year to begin soliciting candidates and set in motion the process of selecting and appointing the next secretary-general.

CONFIRMED CANDIDATES

* Srgjan Kerim - Former Macedonian diplomat and current UN General Assembly President

* Vesna Pusic - Croatian foreign minister

* Igor Luksic - Former Montenegro prime minister and current foreign affairs minister

* Danilo Turk - Former Slovenian president and current assistant secretary-general for political affairs

* Irina Bokovo - Former Bulgarian acting foreign affairs minister and current UNESCO director-general

* Natalia Gherman - Former acting Moldovan prime minister and minister for foreign affairs

* Antonio Guterres - Former Portugal prime minister and former high commissioner of the UN refugee agency

* Helen Clark - Former New Zealand prime minister and UN Development Program administrator

POTENTIAL CANDIDATE

* Kevin Rudd - Former Australian prime minister and former foreign affairs minister

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