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Ban Ki Moon Soon Retiring, UN Looks for his Successor

The United Nations General Assembly (GA) is set to witness the first-ever audition of candidates for next UN Secretary-General, The incumbent Ban Ki Moon leaves at the end of this year.

UNGA President Mogens Lykketoft.

UNGA President Mogens Lykketoft said the audition of potential successors is to find the best person for the next chief of the organisation.

It is in order to increase the knowledge about the candidates, and to find the best person who is the moral authority and is capable of leading the UN with political and diplomatic skills, Lykketoft told the press in a recent interview.

Ban Ki Moon has visited many war affected areas like Burundi.

From April 12-14, eight candidates will publicly present their “vision” statements and will each have a two-hour meeting with the 193-member Assembly to answer the representatives’ questions.

According to Lykketoft, the GA will involve broader audience from around the world to participate the process of the nomination by collecting questions from the civil society through a newly-opened website and considering panel discussions for the candidates outside the UN.

Some questions raised by the civil society such as “what new strategies will you employ to ensure global sustainable development goals attainment?” and “How you as UN secretary-general will draw conflict resolution and will address the migration crises that affect the world’s population?” reflect tough challenges the world’s largest international organization is facing.

“You need a secretary-general…(who) is a very strong moral authority and has a good sense for when to use the authority over the Security Council and the General Assembly to demand action when conflicts are threatening or arising,” said Lykketoft.

The person also must be capable to lead the whole process of implementing the sustainable development goals and climate change agreements, while the UN should be a driving force to governments to live up to their commitments, and she or he has to be a guardian of human rights, he added.

“We have seen the Security Council during the past years stalled in dealing with very dangerous and damaging conflicts…I hope that the secretary-general in the future will be one of the forces really pushing for that,” he noted.

Lykketoft said member states should bring forward the names of the candidates they want to be discussed now “in order to make this process as authentic and in accordance with the purpose of it as possible.”

“No candidates should hide for a later stage,” he said, though mentioning there is no deadline for candidates to be announced.

According to UN Charter, the UN secretary-general shall be appointed by the GA upon the recommendation of the Security Council. In practice, the 15-member Security Council, especially its five permanent members, will make the final choice and send the single candidate to the GA for approval.

As the current UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is going to conclude his term at the end of 2016, the final decision of the UN most powerful Council shall come several weeks before that.

Lykketoft said whenever there is a new candidate being announced, “even if the announcement is to come during the deliberations of the Security Council,” “we will insist in giving them the possibility of going through the same informal kind of dialogue.”

Ban Ki-moon meets with Iranian Supreme Leader.

Of the already-announced eight candidates: half of them are women; six are coming from the Eastern Europe; two serve as chiefs of UN agencies; one is the former UN General Assembly president.

“We will give no one special opportunity. We will give everyone in the General Assembly context exactly the same possibility representing themselves,” said Lykketoft.

He acknowledged there has been a strong wish from the global community to have a female secretary-general for the first time in history, and there has been a call from the Eastern Europe group and also other member states for a UN chief coming from this region.

“It will be over-arching, primary demand (that) we want the best person to be the strong and independent moral authority of the United Nations,” he said.

By Robert Muriisa.

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