New Security Council Report Paper

Security Council Report has issued a second paper on the selection process of the next UNSG, following on their review of the appointment processes used in past selections. This new report discusses the reform proposals that have been put forward and banted about this year. The report looks substatively at the commonalities between the Canadian proposals and commitments made in Resolution 51/241, as well as the meetings and consultations provoked by the Canadian initiative.  

More interesting, it suggests that a formal job description for the UNSG – for many, the holy grail of reforming the selection process – already exists to a large degree, issued in a report by the United Nations Preparatory Commission in December 1945.

The Preparatory Commission identified the following qualities that would be required for appointment of a Secretary-General.

  • Administrative and executive qualities to integrate the activity of the whole complex of United Nations organs. (para 12)
  • Leadership qualities to determine the character and efficiency of the Secretariat. (para 15)
  • Skills to lead a team recruited from many different countries and build the necessary team spirit. (para 15)
  • Moral authority to model the independent role required by article 100 of the Charter. (para 15)
  • Ability to play a role as a mediator. (para 16)
  • Capacity to act as an informal adviser-or confidant-to many governments. (para 16) and (para 19)
  • The highest qualities of political judgment, tact and integrity because of the need at times “…to take decisions which may justly be called political”, not only because of the political role that is expected, but also because of the power “to bring to the attention of the Security Council any matter (not merely any dispute or situation) which in his opinion may threaten international peace and security.”(para 16)
  • Communications and representation skills to represent the United Nations to the public at large and secure the “active and steadfast support of the peoples of the world” without which “the United Nations cannot prosper nor its aims be realised.” (para 17)
  • Overall qualities which demonstrate to the world at large that personally the candidate “embodies the principles and ideals of the Charter to which the Organisation seeks to give effect.” (para 17)

Compare this with UNSGselection.org‘s recommended qualifications:

  1. Comprehensive understanding of and demonstrated commitment to the purposes and principles of the UN Charter, including, but not limited to, international law and multilateralism.
  2. Comprehensive understanding of and demonstrated commitment to the three pillars of UN system: peace and security, development and human rights
  3. Extensive experience with the UN system or other complex international organizations
  4. Diplomatic skills and demonstrated vision and leadership, in accordance with the principles of independence, fairness, and impartiality
  5. Multicultural understanding and gender sensitivity
  6. Strong communication skills and fluency in at least one official UN language
  7. Proven openness to working with civil society and other relevant stakeholders

The earlier “job description” reflected the period’s sense of hope enshrined in the “Organization” and the “Charter” by governments and seeks a UNSG similarly embodying that optimism. Today’s version appeals for skills necessary in an international environment driven more by political divisions and anticipated disagreement.  

 

The SCR paper goes on to discuss the Indian proposal that the 1946 Resolution 11/1 be repealed, and notes procedural changes over the past 60 years which proponents suggest make it “obsolete” for selecting the next UNSG. 

SCR discusses in detail the proposal for the Security Council to proffer three nominees for consideration by the General Assembly. But insiders are reporting that this idea, strongly pushed by India prior to Tharoor’s nomination, is now being allowed to die a quiet death. It is also reportedly opposed by the Asian regional group, which recognizes the very real possibility of multiple Asian names coming forward and splitting its membership. (A worse scenario could arise if two Asians were forced to compete for those regional votes against a nominee from another region.) 

SCR is not optimistic about any of the suggested reforms thus offered being implemented this year, particularly after the letter of June 2nd from Security Council President Ellen Margrethe Løj, informing Jan Eliasson that the Council was starting the process (unchanged) of discussing possible nominees. 

As for where they are in that discussion, insiders are reporting that nominations will be taken until the end of June, with discussions in July aimed at reducing the possible nominees to a “short list” by the end of the month.

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