UN Eases Selection Rules to Facilitate Woman Acceding to Top Job

  • No more choosing secretary-generals behind closed doors
  • A female chief would be a first in United Nations history

For the first time in the 70-year history of the United Nations, the five permanent members of the Security Council have opened up the selection process and are urging women to apply for the job of running the international peace and security organization.

In the past, the Secretary-General was chosen behind closed doors by the five nations with veto powers. Their choice was a fait accompli that was then rubber stamped by the General Assembly. South Korea’s Ban Ki-Moon ends his second term at the end of 2016.

This time round, world powers vow to do things differently. The heads of the Security Council and General Assembly sent an open, joint letter to all members to that effect: “Member States are encouraged to consider presenting women, as well as men, as candidates for the position of Secretary General” and in an effort to introduce transparency, names of individuals will be circulated “on an ongoing basis."

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Those interested in the position can hold "informal dialogs or meetings," with 193 nations that make up the General Assembly. The Security Council will begin discussions in July.

Previously, the selection process took into account geography. Regions took turns to fill the top position. Next year, custom dictates the winning candidate would have to emerge from Eastern Europe.

The field is not open to everyone. The next UN boss needs to have “proven leadership and managerial abilities, extensive experience in international relations, and strong diplomatic, communication and multilingual skills.”

“8 people have held the office of @UN S-G. 0 have been women,” said Matthew Rycroft, the British ambassador to the UN, in a tweet. “High time for change? I think so."

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