For first time, UN chief aspirants to be quizzed by members

United Nations: The election of the next UN Secretary General will be “historic” and “game-changing” as the member states will interact and question all potential candidates with equal representation being given to women aspirants for the first time in its 70-year-old history.

As the process to select the next UN Secretary-General gets under way, General Assembly President Mogens Lykketoft said that he will hold a series of informal dialogues and meetings with all potential candidates from April 12 to 14.

Each candidate will be offered a two-hour meeting slot to present his or her candidature, and UN Member States will have the opportunity to ask questions and interact with each person, Lykketoft said here yesterday.

“I think this is quite historic and potentially game-changing for the way the Secretary-General is appointed, Lykketoft said.

India, along with a majority of UN member states, has called for changing and improving the existing process of selecting the world body’s chief, saying that gender equality and regional rotation should be given due regard in selecting the successor to Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.

In a first, UN Security Council President for December US envoy Samantha Power and General Assembly President Mogens Lykketoft had circulated a letter last month to the 193 UN members soliciting names of candidates for the next UN chief and vowing to make the process more transparent and inclusive.

The two also made a special emphasis on the need for members states to nominate women candidates for the job of the world s top diplomat.

No woman has served as Secretary General in the 70 years that the UN has been in existence.

The General Assembly President further noted that he sent a new letter to all UN Member States informing them of his intention to begin the meetings with all candidates who had been formally presented by that time.

“The informal dialogues or meetings will be as open and transparent as possible, with the considerable interest from the global public and civil society being duly kept in mind,” the letter states.

So far, six candidates have been officially presented, three of them women- former Croatian Deputy Prime Minister Vesna Pusic, UNESCO Director General Irina Bokova and Acting Prime Minister of Moldova Natalia Gherman.

The men who have put forward their candidature are former Macedonian foreign minister Srgian Kerim, former Prime Minister of Montenegro Igor Luksic and former President of Slovenia Danilo Turk.

According to the UN Charter, the Secretary-General is appointed by the General Assembly following the recommendation of the Security Council. The next Secretary-General will assume the role in January 2017.

Traditionally, the UN chief has severed a five-year term, which can be renewed by Member States

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