Get it together!

As noted before, there has been some discussion among key human rights and similar-minded NGOs on how to reform the SG selection process. A meeting this week in New York brought several groups together to discuss how to open up the selection process, make it more transparent and to brainstorm on candidate selection criteria. Unfortunately, while a few groups want to ramp up the NGO effort as soon as possible, most are only willing to sit back and observe the action at this point.

The options for substantive reform this late in the game are few, but a formal coalition of NGOs pushing for a more transparent process could still influence governments to some degree. Sticking to the bigger picture, i.e. the selection process, may not excite some NGOs who would prefer to argue for or against a candidate based on their government’s record on human rights or other issues, but it’s the only way to present a united front to governments. Such was invaluable in establishing the International Criminal Court, a more fundamental and imposing shift in global politics by any measure.

An early idea of pushing for a formal search committee in the UN system (other than the P5!) is no longer being considered, as no one is under the impression it could happen this year. However, a list of core qualifications – a job description for the SG if you will – suggested and consistently referenced by a broad swath of civil society groups could ensure close scrutiny of candidates and governments as the selection process unfolds. But it won’t happen if NGOs offer competing lists or only participate from the sidelines.

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