Final stage in appointment of António Guterres as next Secretary-General

Now that the UN Security Council has adopted by consensus António Guterres, former Prime Minister of Portugal, as its nominee to be the next Secretary-General when Ban Ki-moon steps down at the end of December, the final stage of the process will be formal approval by the General Assembly. In addition to serving as his country’s Prime Minister, Mr Guterres has also been the UN High Commissioner for Refugees.

A draft resolution will be issued for the Assembly to take action and the Assembly President will, after appropriate consultations with Member States, set a date for the draft to be taken up. The previous five Secretaries-General have all been appointed through a resolution adopted by consensus. In the unlikely event of a vote being requested by a Member State and then accepted by a simple majority vote, a two-thirds majority for approval would be necessary for his approval and it would be carried out by secret ballot.

The process for the selection of the next Secretary-General has been the culmination of a more transparent process than previously when all decisions have been made behind closed doors. Since the so-called ‘informal briefings’ kicked off in April, Member States and civil society representatives have posed questions to all candidates and results of the ‘straw polls’ carried out by the Security Council have been made available.

There were a number of strong women candidates for Secretary-General right up until the last straw poll and many members of civil society were hoping for a woman to fill the post for the first time. This will have to wait: meanwhile Mr Guterres will have the opportunity to ensure that Goal 5 of the SDGs: Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls is fully implemented and that gender is also mainstreamed across the whole of the 2030 Agenda.

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