UN begins unprecedented informal briefings to pick next Chief 

Wednesday, Apr 13, 2016,10:25 IST By Metrovaartha A A A

United Nations | For the first time in its 70-year history, the United Nations began informal briefings with candidates to pick the next Secretary-General for the 193-member world body in a new and transparent process.

Opening the dialogues, General Assembly President Mogens Lykketoft underscored that as the UN grapples with multiple crises and deals with fundamental questions regarding its own role and performance, finding the best candidate to succeed is absolutely crucial.

Much of what we are embarking on today is without precedent at the UN, he stressed as the UN member states prepared to question the eight expected candidates for the position of world’s top diplomat.

The UN Secretary-General will head a 40,000-plus employees organisation with a budget of USD 10 billion. For the first time in this organisation’s 70-year history, the process for selecting and appointing the next Secretary-General is being genuinely guided by principles of transparency and inclusivity and the dialogues that we are beginning today are at the very core of this change, he said.

Lykketoft reiterated that candidates will be given the opportunity to respond to member states’ interventions at regular intervals. A civil society committee had reviewed all the more than 1,000 questions submitted from 70 countries since 26 February, when the call was opened to submit questions.

The committee had agreed on a shortlist of 30 questions, the General Assembly President said, adding the level of interest in these dialogues from the global public and civil society is extraordinary.

Lykketoft also plans to post 10 of the top remaining questions on his website after the dialogues, and encouraged each candidate to answer them in writing. Calling the process a potential game-changing exercise, he said the informal briefings were part of a very transparent, very interesting discussion about the future of the United Nations.

Over the course of the next three days, the official candidates  currently eight of them  will answer questions related to promoting sustainable development, how to improve efforts to create peace and protect human rights, how to deal with huge humanitarian catastrophes, and how to resolve challenges defined by the agenda for Sustainable Development.

At the end of the process, Lykketoft said, expressing his personal view, one single candidate could emerge, making it difficult for the Security Council  which is tasked with making the official selection  to choose another candidate.

The three candidates first appearing before the General Assembly are Igor Luksic, the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs and European Integration and nominated by the Government of Montenegro, Irina Bokova, currently the Director-General of the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation and Antonio Guterres, who was most recently the UN High Commissioner for Refugees.