The work continues

UNSG.org was created to provide a useful, comprehensive resource that makes the selection of the eighth UNSG more accessible and open to both close observers and the general public. The word from friends at several missions, non-governmental organizations and in the media would suggest that it has been not only informative but influential in that objective. Now that we know Who will be the Next UN Secretary General, those same colleagues have asked what will be the site’s focus?

The objective remains, for the most part, unchanged. Minister Ban is to be congratulated on being selected, but the site will not transform into a “Ban Watch” or otherwise judgmental assessment of his administration. The larger goal will remain to provide information on the process of selecting the Secretary General of the United Nations and highlighting ways that process can be made more open, transparent and accountable.

That being said, over the next several weeks the site will cover the appointments of UNSG-designate Ban to the vaunted Under Secretary General positions and other key posts. A short review of the process will be posted in the next few days followed by rumored names and nationalities.

In general however, UNSG.org will follow up on efforts to reform the selection process, significant progress toward which occurred this year. A number of the proposals advanced this year by governments and civil society groups however deserve continued consideration. Many of the reforms suggested were realized not through formal action but at the initiative of candidates or civil society groups, and such may provide more momentum toward their formal acceptability the next time. Governments and civil society should also not fail to critically review new procedures used this year (was the new Security Council processes effective?). 

But the more important reforms, ones which would require intergovernmental agreement in the next selection (formal qualifications for the office, a timeline for nominations and selection, and public forums or hearings), will require civil society groups to stay committed to a more open and transparent process not just in but rather over the course of the next 5-10 years.

Such continued engagement on the selection of global leadership is not unrelated to civil society or government’s immediate interests. The heads of the WTO, WHO, UNDP, OECD, WFP, World Bank, IMF, UNHCR and the IAEA have been filled in the last three years. The senior posts that will come open in the next five years will provide sufficient opportunities for governments and civil society groups to recognize the more effective and accountable methodologies in filling such positions well before 2011/2016.

Otherwise, we’ll all be right back here again in a few years.

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