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Outlook on 2016: Electing a "housekeeper" for the "global village"

Editor: Li Kun 丨CCTV.com

01-05-2016 16:41 BJT

By Lin Dequan, Researcher of  Center for World Affairs Studies, Xinhua News Agency

The current General Secretary of the United Nations (UN), Ban Ki-moon's term will expire on the last day of 2016. The election of his successor has already begun.


Due to the importance of the position, the results of the election will have great significance for the global village.

Li Shou'en from CNTV interviewed Li Dequan, researcher of Center for World Affairs Studies of the Xinhua News Agency.

Q: Why did you compare the General Sectary of the UN to a "housekeeper of the global village?"

A: The globe is separated by mountains and oceans. The fast development of science and technology has changed the world as our shared homeland, just like a small village.

After World War II, the UN was created, expanding from 51 member states to 193 today. For 70 years, the UN has undertaken a great mission to defend world peace and security.
The General Secretary is in charge of the daily work of the UN, serving its main bodies, whose responsibilities are diverse as the problems handled by the organization.

The UN General Secretary is called "the housekeeper of the world", i.e. "the housekeeper of the global village."

Q: There were eight General Secretaries in the 70-year history of the UN. How were they selected?

A: The selection of the General Secretary follows this course: Each country notifies their candidate to all member states before the current General secretary leaves office.

The Security Council discusses and passes the notification list and submits it to the UN Assembly for all member states to vote.  The candidate winning the most votes would be elected.

Q: What are the election rules?

A: There's a rotation of different regions. The eight General Secretaries include three people from Europe, two from Africa, two from Asia and one from South America.

The established rule: The General Secretary would rotate every ten years among different continents.

Second is meritocracy. The candidate is supposed to be talented, prestigious, capable of handling problems and understanding one of UN's six official languages.

There must be agreement among five permanent member states of the Security Council. If any of the five states disagrees, the candidate can't be elected.

There's priority for small countries. The candidate goes first to those from small and medium countries, to shelter from contradictions and to balance benefits.

The five permanent member states of the Security Council are not supposed to nominate candidates. The selected candidate will have a five-year term and another five years reappointment after expiration.

Q: What is the race for 2016?

A; The UN assembly passed a resolution on the election of the General Secretary last September for the sake of reform; cancelling some private practices in the election, adding new practices, such as sending out a public letter, inviting  all member states to join in the discussion and allow candidates to recommend themselves.

On Nov.26, the Security Council and UN Assembly sent letters to all member states to inform them of the election for next September or October.

On Dec. 15, the UN officially started procedures for electing the next General Secretary and invited 193 member states to nominate candidates.

UN Assembly President Mogens Lykketoft and Samantha Bauer, Rotating President of the Security Council of the month and permanent representative of the US to the UN, sent out a public letter to each state to initiate procedures on soliciting, electing and appointing the next General Secretary.

Member states must submit a candidate list to the UN Assembly President and Security Council President in the form of a letter.

The candidate list would be shared with all member states. This is the first time in the 70-year history of the UN to select the General Secretary via a public election.

"The nomination of a candidate as soon as possible would facilitate consultation from the Security Council," said the public letter.

According to UN officials, they hope the nomination list will be finalized by March. The candidate list would not be determined until mid-2016, and the Security Council would recommend candidates to the UN Assembly for voting by October.

Q: What about the possibility of a female UN General Secretary?

A; All eight General Secretaries were male, so many member states have appealed for a female General Sectary. The public letter on Dec. 15 had strongly urged for female candidates as well.

The voice for a female UN General Secretary is strong, since they have played an important role in the UN organizations.

Approximately 33 percentof the 45,000 UN staff are women as of 2014. The presidents of Brazil, Chile, Croatia, South Korea and Liberia are all female at the moment.

International organizations, including the International Monetary Fund (IMF), United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), World Health Organization (WHO), United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and UN Women are all chaired by women.

There are four female ambassadors among the 15 member states of the Security Council. According to some reports, there are more than 30 countries requesting a female housekeeper for the UN.

But it is not so simple. There are also objections. Besides, many countries have not declared their positions yet.

The final reason goes to politics and benefits. The crucial factor is the position and orientation of the candidate in regards to international political issues.

The election of a global village housekeeper could be compared to a TV series. The competition is fierce, the plot is exciting. So, we will wait and see.


( The opinions expressed here do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Panview or CCTV.com. )



Panview offers a new window of understanding the world as well as China through the views, opinions, and analysis of experts. We also welcome outside submissions, so feel free to send in your own editorials to "globalopinion@vip.cntv.cn" for consideration.

Panview offers an alternative angle on China and the rest of the world through the analyses and opinions of experts. We also welcome outside submissions, so feel free to send in your own editorials to "globalopinion@vip.cntv.cn" for consideration.

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