The 15 members of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) will vote behind closed doors on Thursday in order to select the next secretary-general to the world body out of a dozen officially proposed contenders.
Representatives of the 10 non-permanent member states along with those of powerful permanent five – Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States – will huddle together to choose the ninth officeholder of the UN, a successor to the incumbent Ban Ki-moon.
Each member state will rate the 12 candidates with a ballot marked “encourage,” “discourage” or “no opinion,”, and the contender with the most secured “encourage” ballots will be nominated for the job and introduced to the General Assembly for the final vote.
The selection process, however, is not that straightforward and is hugely overshadowed by the unique and highly controversial privilege of the five permanent members to veto.
Not only can the five permanent members veto any resolution but can block any candidate as well. As a result, the selection is subject to the veto of any of the five permanent members of the Security Council.
Of the 12 candidates, six are women, from three different continents. If one of them is selected as the next leader of the UN, she will be the first ever officeholder of the world body, since there has never been a female secretary-general so far.
Moreover, the bulk of the candidates – eight – are from Eastern Europe, a region which has had no representatives in the top job since the creation of the UN in the final year of the Second World War.
Among the top contenders vying for the job are Argentina’s Foreign Minister Susana Malcorra, Slovenia’s former president Danilo Turk, New Zealand’s former premier Helen Clark, and Antonio Guterres, who served as Portugal’s prime minister.
Ban took office for his first five-year term on January 2007 and was re-elected to a second term on June 2011, after his first one expired on December 2011. He will leave office at the end of the year and will be replaced by the new leader on January 2017.
The UN is under fire for years by member states not only for the unrivaled ability of veto, enjoyed by the permanent five members, but also for its secretary-generals, who are chosen not for their abilities to run the world body and serve all member states, but to serve the permanent five members.