Choosing Kofi Annan’s Successor
Oct. 19, 2006
On October 13, 2006, Ban Ki-moon of South Korea was chosen to be the eighth UN Secretary-General. His five-year term will begin on January 1, 2007. For background on the selection process, see below.
This means that choice effectively rests with the Security Council. To win the approval of the 15-member Council, a candidate must receive 9 votes, and must not be vetoed by any of the five permanent members (China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States). The non-permanent Security Council members this year are: Argentina, Congo, Denmark, Ghana, Greece, Japan, Peru, Qatar, Slovakia, and Tanzania.
A 1997 General Assembly resolution says that, in selecting the Secretary-General, “due regard” should be given to regional rotation and gender equality.
The UN’s Secretaries-General have come from the following regions: 3 from Western Europe, 2 from Africa, 1 from Latin America, 1 from Asia. There has not yet been a Secretary-General from Eastern Europe (which is a recognized UN regional group). There has not yet been a female UN Secretary-General.
<align=”right”>Indian UN Under Secretary-General Shashi Tharoor
The UN’s African group has held the Secretary-General post for the past 15 years (5 years of the Egyptian Boutros Boutros-Ghali and 10 years of the Ghanaian Kofi Annan). The expectation was that this time, it was the Asian group’s turn. The last (and only) Asian to hold the post was U Thant of Burma, whose term ended 35 years ago. Why another Asian when the Eastern European group has not yet had a Secretary-General? The reason is UN politics: The African and Asian groups agreed that it was Asia’s turn—and they, together, hold a majority of General Assembly seats (107 out of 192 members), and China holds a Security Council veto.
There is an unwritten rule that the Secretary-General should not come from one of the five countries that hold permanent Security Council seats.
The UN’s past Secretaries-General are:
|Trygve Lie||Norway||1946 – 1952|
|Dag Hammarskjold||Sweden||1953 – 1961|
|U Thant||Burma/Myanmar||1961 – 1971|
|Kurt Waldheim||Austria||1972 – 1981|
|Javier Perez de Cuellar||Peru||1982 – 1991|
|Boutros Boutros-Ghali||Egypt||1992 – 1996|
|Kofi Annan||Ghana||1997 – 2006|
Thai Deputy Prime Minister Surakiart Sathirathai
There is no required timetable for the appointment, although a 1997 General Assembly resolution calls for it to be “as early as possible” and preferably no later than 1 month before the expiration of the current term.
There also is no deadline for nominating candidates, so new contenders could come into the process at any time.
|Ban Ki-moon||South Korea||Foreign Minister|
|Jayantha Dhanapala||Sri Lanka||Senior Advisor to the President|
|Surakiart Sathirathai||Thailand||Deputy Prime Minister|
|Shashi Tharoor||India|| UN Under Secretary-General for
Communications & Public Information
|Prince Zeid al-Hussein||Jordan||Permanent Representative to the UN|
|Ashraf Ghani||Afghanistan||Chancellor of Kabul University|
Other potential, but non-official, candidates being discussed in the press and in UN circles included:
|Kemal Dervis||Turkey||UN Development Program Administrator|
|Goh Chok Tong||Singapore||Former Prime Minister|
|Maleeha Lodhi||Pakistan||High Commissioner to the UK|
|Niranjan Deva-Aditya||Sri Lanka/UK||European Parliament Member|
Jordanian Prince Zeid al-Hussein
The Selection Process
The Security Council conducted its first “straw poll” to gauge support for the official candidates (then numbering four) on July 24. Each Security Council member anonymously, and without identifying its permanent or rotating status, indicated encouragement, discouragement, or no opinion of the candidacy. The results, listed from high to low scorer, were as follows:
Sri Lankan presidential advisor Jayantha Dhanapala
No candidate withdrew from the race after the July straw poll, but one additional candidate (Prince Zeid al-Hussein of Jordan) entered. The second straw poll took place on September 14. The voting procedure was the same as the July straw poll. The results, again from high to low scorer, were as follows:
|Prince Zeid al-Hussein||6||4||5|
After the second straw poll, two additional candidates entered the race: Ashraf Ghani of Afghanistan, and Vaira Vike-Freiberga of Latvia.
A third straw was held on September 28, using the same procedure. These results, from high to low, were:
|Prince Zeid al-Hussein||3||6||6|
After the third straw poll, Jayantha Dhanapala of Sri Lanka withdrew his candidacy.
A fourth and final straw poll was held on October 2. This poll distinguished, through the use of different colored ballot papers, between non-permanent and permanent (i.e. veto-wielding) Security Council members. Ban Ki-moon placed first, again, and as the only candidate with no discourage vote from a permanent member, locked up the nomination:
|Shashi Tharoor||10||3 (1 P)||2|
|Vaira Vike-Freiberga||5||6 (2 P)||4|
|Surakiart Sathirathai||4||7 (2 P)||4|
|Ashraf Ghani||4||11 (3 P)||0|
|Prince Zeid al-Hussein||2||8 (1 P)||5|
As of October 5, all five of the other candidates had withdrawn from the race. Ban was recommended by the Security Council on October 9 and appointed by the General Assembly on October 13. He will take office on January 1, 2007.