Issue 15 - 7 September 2006 - Security Council to hold Second Straw Poll; Prince Zeid Nominated

New York, 7 September 2006 –

A. New Candidate Nominated

Jordan has nominated its Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Prince Zeid Ra’ad Zeid Al-Hussein, for Secretary-General. The Mission of Jordan confirmed that it submitted its nomination to the President of the Security Council and the General Assembly. Jordan belongs to the Asian Group for the purposes of elections, including Secretary-General selection, so his selection would satisfy the preferences of Member States who emphasize regional rotation and argue that it is Asia’s “turn” to produce a Secretary-General.

UNSGselection.org has sent the Candidate Questionnaire to Prince Zeid.

Another new candidate seemed to have emerged yesterday, Niranjan Deva-Aditya, who is a dual citizen of Sri Lanka and England. It was reported that Fiji nominated him in a letter to the Security Council, but because the letter came from the Minister of Foreign Affairs directly, rather than through the Permanent Representative to the United Nations, it is not considered an official nomination. The Deputy Permanent Representative of Fiji confirmed today that the Mission had sent a letter to the Security Council specifying that it had not, in fact, nominated Mr. Deva-Aditya. He said that it may or may not nominate him at a later time.

B. Second Straw Poll Set for 14 September

According to Ambassador Vassilakis of Greece, President of the Security Council for September, the Council decided yesterday afternoon to hold a second straw poll on 14 September. The method will be the same as July’s straw poll; that is, each Member will be asked to register “encourage,” “discourage,” or “no opinion” for each candidate, and the marks of the Permanent Members will not be differentiated from those of the non-Permanent Members. The second straw poll originally was scheduled for August but was postponed due to the pressing situation in the Middle East.

Ambassador Vassilakis also said that a third straw poll was planned tentatively for 28 September and that the specific procedure had not been determined yet. The Security Council Report’s Monthly Forecast for September offers the following indications: “A number of Council members are disappointed at the first round of straw balloting in July and feel that it would have been more effective in achieving the goal of encouraging withdrawal of the less favoured candidates if the process had been more open…. [Something] that might precipitate a reduction in the field is for the position of the permanent members to become transparent. There is increasing talk amongst Council members that the process should now be adjusted to permit that.”

The Forecast also observed, “there seems to be much less confidence that the process will be concluded in early October.”

C. Outcome of Efforts by India and Canada

Canada’s delegation to the UN initiated reforms to increase the transparency and inclusiveness of the SG selection process and to make the SG more independent from the Permanent Members of the Security Council. Their proposal of February 2006 was incorporated into a set of draft recommendations for a Resolution on General Assembly “revitalization”, discussed by the Ad-Hoc Working Group on General Assembly Revitalization from February to September 2006. In the course of those negotiations between Member States many of Canada’s proposed features were diluted or lost, but the issue of greater General Assembly participation in the selection process generated notable interest and support from Member States. An agreed version was finally adopted by the General Assembly on 5 September.

The adopted Resolution’s clauses on the Secretary-General selection process refer to:

  • the need to increase inclusiveness and transparency in the identification and appointment processes;
  • the importance of regional rotation and gender equity;
  • a suggested procedure for candidates to be identified and nominated through the GA instead of the Security Council, and a request that candidates “present their views to all Member States of the General Assembly”;
  • the need for sufficient time for Member States to interact with candidates before the final selection is made; and
  • a reiteration that the Secretary-General should be appointed no later than one month before the beginning of his or her term.

An initiative by India attracted much attention but was not included in the final Resolution. At the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) meeting in May 2006, India initiated a proposal for the General Assembly to request the Security Council to recommend multiple candidates for the GA’s consideration, which would give the General Assembly a much larger role in the selection. The current practice is for the GA to approve the single candidate recommended to it by the Council. India’s proposal was contentious and the NAM elected not to support it formally, but the idea had support from Cuba and Venezuela, among other NAM members. Pakistan was a key opponent and expressed concern that a vote in the GA would split the mandate of the selected Secretary-General.

In a late-August drafting meeting for the Resolution on GA revitalization, India’s proposal gained additional support. Pakistan withdrew its objection and the NAM was able formally to support the clause (“Insert 20bis”) asking the Security Council to recommend more than one candidate for Secretary-General. The proposal still faced opposition from Canada, the European Union, and the United States, among others. The proposal did not appear in the Co-Chairs’ draft of 31 August or the ultimate Resolution. It is unclear whether the NAM, or some individual members, will continue to support this proposal in another forum.