There are few rules governing the selection of the Secretary-General. The only guiding text is Article 97 of the United Nations Charter, which states that “The Secretary-General shall be appointed by the General Assembly upon the recommendation of the Security Council.” As a result, the selection is subject to the veto of any of the five permanent members of the Security Council. In 1946, the General Assembly adopted a resolution stating that it was “desirable for the Security Council to proffer one candidate only for the consideration of the General Assembly, and for debate on the nomination in the General Assembly to be avoided.”
While former officeholders represent a wide range of countries, there has never been a female Secretary-General. There are numerous female candidates in 2016, including several from outside Eastern Europe.
Because of the informal regional rotation scheme, many commentators speculate that the next UN Secretary-General will come from the Eastern European Group, as that region has never produced a Secretary-General. However, tensions between Russia and Western permanent members over the conflict in Ukraine has raised the possibility of deadlock over an Eastern European nominee, meaning that candidates from other regions (particularly non-European members of the Western European and Others Group and Latin America) are being seriously considered.
The Security Council and General Assembly took steps to make the selection process more transparent and open in 2016 and sent a letter to member states asking them to nominate candidates for the position. In practice, previous secretaries-general were chosen behind closed doors by the Security Council and then had their names submitted to General Assembly for ratification. No candidate has ever been rejected by the General Assembly.
General Assembly president Mogens Lykketoft advocates the General Assembly selecting a candidate and he held public meetings from 12 to 14 April 2016 where Assembly members could question candidates.
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