Role of the Secretary-General

The Secretary-General of the United Nations plays a unique and critical role in international relations. As the chief administrative officer of the United Nations, the Secretary-General is responsible for a wide range of administrative, managerial and substantive tasks and serves as the head spokesman for the UN representing and upholding the organization’s principles. He/She is also responsible for carrying out functions entrusted to him/her by the Security Council, General Assembly, ECOSOC, and other UN organs. The Secretary-General has the authority to bring to the Security Council’s attention matters which he/she feels threaten the maintenance of international peace and security.

One of the Secretary-General’s most important roles involves the ability to use his/her “good offices” to serve as a mediator in conflict situations. While the Security Council authorizes the peacekeeping missions and the General Assembly approves funds, the Secretary-General often play the essential role of engaging with and mediating between the conflicting parties.

The Secretary-General’s basic duties include attending sessions of UN bodies; consulting with world leaders, governments and others; and carrying out country visits to meet with people, stay informed on issues and report on various conditions. The Secretary-General issues an annual report on the work of the UN which appraises its activities and outlines future priorities. He/She is also Chairman of the Administrative Committee on Coordination (ACC), which brings together the Executive Heads of all UN funds, programmes and specialized agencies twice a year to coordinate the spectrum of substantive and management issues facing the UN system.

Role of the Deputy Secretary-General

The Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations is a senior staff member of the secretariat general. As a direct appointee of the Secretary-General, the Deputy Secretary-General is vested with the authority to act on behalf of the Secretary-General during his or her absence from headquarters or to represent the Secretary-General at conferences and functions. Accordingly, the Deputy Secretary-General participates in public awareness and outreach efforts with Member States in order to elevate the UN as a leading hub of development policy and development assistance.

The Deputy Secretary-General also manages the operations of the Secretariat, facilitates the coordination of activities across UN institutions, harmonizes the coherence between UN activities in the socio-economic and peace and security sectors and oversees UN reform.

Previous UN Secretaries-General: