UN official adds support for women candidates for UN chief

AP News
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Posted: Oct 20, 2015 6:51 PM

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — The General Assembly president added his voice Tuesday to a push for strong consideration to be given to women candidates for the top U.N. post as secretary-general.

In the U.N.'s 70-year history, there has never been a female secretary-general, but there is a growing campaign for Ban Ki-moon's successor to be a woman. He is slated to leave the job when his second five-year term ends on Dec. 31, 2016.

"I am absolutely confident that there are any number of potential female candidates" qualified for the top U.N. job, Assembly President Mogens Lykketoft told the Security Council.

"Bearing in mind that in 70 years the U.N. has never had a female secretary-general, the inclusion and consideration of woman candidates should be an important focus for all of us as we ensure that this organization continues to advance gender equality on all levels," he said.

Making only the seventh appearance by the leader of the 193-member General Assembly at the Security Council, Lykketoft said he is moving ahead on measures in the resolution aimed at making the largely secretive selection of the secretary-general more open and transparent.

The U.N. Charter says "the secretary-general shall be appointed by the General Assembly upon the recommendation of the Security Council." But in the largely opaque process of choosing the secretary-general, the five permanent members of the Security Council — the U.S., Russia, China, Britain and France — have the real power because of their vetoes.

The General Assembly resolution will allow member states for the first time to see basic information about all candidates, including their resumes, and to meet and question them. But it will still be the Security Council, and especially the permanent members, who make the selection.

Lykketoft said he and the current rotating president of the Security Council, Spain's U.N. Ambassador Roman Oyarzun Marchesi, are discussing the first step, the process of soliciting candidates for secretary-general.

A statement from six elected council members serving two-year terms — Angola, Chile, Jordan, Malaysia, New Zealand and Spain — said the council "has been slow" to engage with the assembly, complaining that this is essential given the call "for dialogue and a more transparent and inclusive process of decision-making on this issue."