Joint letter issued by presidents of the General Assembly and Security Council signals reformed Secretary-General selection process

by Jessica Kroenert, 16 December 2015

On 15 December 2015, President of the General Assembly (PGA) Mogens Lykketoft and President of the Security Council Ambassador Power of the United States circulated an unprecedented joint letter marking the start of a reformed Secretary-General selection process for 2016. The letter was circulated to all Member States, as requested in resolution 69/321 of September this year.

The letter officially starts the process of soliciting candidates for the position, and provides a description of the path forward, which is to include the joint circulation of candidates names by the presidents, as well as an option for candidates to participate in informal dialogues or meetings with Member States. PGA Lykketoft said that he anticipates these meetings to be open to the public.

In accordance with the traditional, yet informal, practice of regional rotation, many are calling for the next Secretary-General to be from Eastern Europe as it is the only region to have not yet held the position. However, as PGA Lykketoft explained at the briefing, the call for nominations is open to candidates of all regions. He also emphasized that gender should be taken into consideration, and that the letter encourages the nomination of female candidates.

Notably, while the joint letter invites candidates "to be presented" who exhibit certain qualities, it does not specify by whom candidates must be presented. During the press briefing, however, PGA Lykketoft observed that there is a "general understanding" that a Member State or regional group may present candidates for the position. It remains to be seen whether a candidate could independently present his or her candidacy to the presidents of the General Assembly and the Security Council.

At the time of the briefing, two candidates had already been announced: Mr. Srgjan Kerim of the Republic of Macedonia, and Ms. Vesna Pusić of Croatia. Both candidates are supported by their national governments.