United Nations in General

Selection and Appointment of the next United Nations Secretary-General

As the second term of the eighth Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon comes to an end on 31 December 2016, so the process is under way to select and appoint his successor.

The principles of transparency and inclusivity should guide the selection process, according to the President of the 70th Session of the General Assembly, Mogens Lykketoft. He has invited Member States to present candidates for the post with proven leadership and managerial abilities, extensive experience in international relations, and strong diplomatic, communication and multilingual skills. Mr. Lykketoft is encouraging Member States to consider presenting women candidates for the position, which has not yet been held by a woman.

The Secretary-General is a symbol of the United Nations ideals and a spokesperson for the interests of the world's peoples, in particular the poor and vulnerable. They can be described best as equal parts diplomat and advocate, civil servant and Chief Executive Officer.

In a letter to the Member States the President of the General Assembly and the President of the Security Council are offering to hold informal dialogues with the candidates and Member States, starting in April.

The role of the Secretary-General

The UN Charter describes the Secretary-General as "chief administrative officer" of the Organization, who also performs "such other functions as are entrusted" to him or her by the Security Council, General Assembly, Economic and Social Council and other United Nations organs.

The Charter also empowers the Secretary-General to "bring to the attention of the Security Council any matter, which in their opinion may threaten the maintenance of international peace and security". These guidelines both define the powers of the office and grant it considerable scope for action.

The Secretary-General would fail if they did not take careful account of the concerns of Member States, but they must also uphold the values and moral authority of the United Nations, and speak and act for peace, even at the risk, from time to time, of challenging or disagreeing with those same Member States.

That creative tension accompanies the Secretary-General through day-to-day work that includes attendance at sessions of United Nations bodies; consultations with world leaders, government officials, and others; and worldwide travel intended to keep them in touch with the peoples of the Organization's Member States and informed about the vast array of topics of international concern that are on the Organization's agenda. Each year, the Secretary-General issues a report on the work of the United Nations that appraises its activities and outlines future priorities.

Secretary-General Selection Process

The Secretary-General is appointed by the General Assembly, on the recommendation of the Security Council, as stated in Article 97 of the UN Charter.

The newly appointed Secretary-General will assume the role in January 2017 and will serve a five year term, which can be renewed by Member States for an additional five years.

Although there is technically no limit to the number of five-year terms a Secretary-General may serve, none so far has held office for more than two terms.

Nominated candidates

Dr. Srgjan Kerim
Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia
Vision Statement
Informal dialogue

14.01.2016 [Withdrawn]
Prof. Dr. sc. Vesna Pusić
Vision Statement
Informal dialogue

15.01.2016 [Withdrawn]
Dr. Igor Lukšić
Vision Statement
Informal dialogue

Dr. Danilo Türk
Vision Statement
Informal dialogue

Irina Bokova
Vision Statement
Informal dialogue

Natalia Gherman
Republic of Moldova
Vision Statement
Informal dialogue

António Guterres
Vision Statement
Informal dialogue

Helen Clark
New Zealand
Vision Statement
Informal dialogue

Vuc Jeremić
Republic of Serbia
Vision Statement
Informal dialogue

Susana Malcorra
Vision Statement

Miroslav Lajčák
Slovak Republic
Vision Statement

7.7.2016 [Withdrawn]
Christiana Figueres
Costa Rica
Vision Statement

Kristalina Georgieva
Vision Statement



History of Secretaries-General

The ninth Secretary General will follow in the steps of:

  • Ban Ki-moon (Republic of Korea), who took office in January 2007;
  • Kofi A. Annan (Ghana), who held office from January 1997 to December 2006;
  • Boutros Boutros-Ghali (Egypt), who held office from January 1992 to December 1996;
  • Javier Pérez de Cuéllar (Peru), who served from January 1982 to December 1991;
  • Kurt Waldheim (Austria), who held office from January 1972 to December 1981;
  • U Thant (Burma, now Myanmar), who served from November 1961, when he was appointed acting Secretary-General (he was formally appointed Secretary-General in November 1962) to December 1971;
  • Dag Hammarskjöld (Sweden), who served from April 1953 until his death in a plane crash in Africa in September 1961; and
  • Trygve Lie (Norway), who held office from February 1946 to his resignation in November 1952.