Sir Brian Urquhart Interview

Suzanne Dimaggio follows up on her earlier interview with Amb. Thoma Pickering for UNA-USA on the selection of the next UNSG by discussing the subject with Sir Brian Urquhart. Sir Brian, a distinguished international civil servant, has had the privilege of knowing all seven previous UNSGs.

Dimaggio notes that the UN Charter does not provide a term length for the UNSG. Sir Brian suggests establishing a single 7-year term for the UNSG, so that the world body “would not have to fuss with a re-election after five years…which is a big interruption.” He also suggests this would lessen the potential politicization of an incumbent playing to national governments, particularly the five permanent members.

Sir Brian also discusses the importance of reforming the UN’s infrastructure to meet today’s global humanitarian and peacekeeping needs and providing the necessary authority to the Deputy UNSG and others reporting to the UNSG on global concerns. On the question of recent demands that management accountability in the office of UNSG, given recent scandals, Sir Brian suggests that the UNSG “must be aware of the importance of this [concern], and he must be allowed to pick the best Deputy to deal with, and to always be aware that the buck stops at his desk eventually.”

In her companion report, Dimaggio expands on the question of management and accountability in regards to the UNSG’s own role in the selection of his or her Deputy.

“There has been some discussion about whether slates in which candidates for both the secretary-general and deputy are appointed together would improve the selection process. Such an approach may unnecessarily complicate matters…Instead, nations should consider looking for a qualified candidate for secretary-general who can then make the right choice in his/her future appointments, including a deputy.”

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