UNITED NATIONS -- The U.N. Security Council is going to make its recommendation for the next secretary-general this month, and with current U.N. chief Antonio Guterres the only candidate, his selection for a second term is all but assured, the current council president said Tuesday.
Estonian Ambassador Sven Jurgenson, the council president for June, said at a news conference that even though there is only one candidate “the process is still the same” -- the 15-member Security Council must make a recommendation to the 193-member General Assembly, which must approve the next secretary-general.
Traditionally, candidates have been nominated by a U.N. member state, but that is not a requirement in the U.N. Charter or the resolution.
Guterres, whose current five-year term ends Dec. 31, was nominated by Portugal, his home country. But this year has also seen seven individuals submit applications to be secretary-general without backing from any government, including most recently former Ecuadorian President Rosalia Arteaga.
Last month, General Assembly President Volkan Bozkir said that “the rule” is that an applicant can only become a candidate when a letter signed jointly by the presidents of the assembly and the Security Council is sent to all member states.
And, he said, “It looks like the Security Council has the opinion that, traditionally, only applicants supported by a country can become a candidate,” so the only joint letter has been sent on behalf of Guterres.
Jurgenson took note of the other applications but confirmed to reporters Tuesday that “legally and officially only states can present candidates,” and Guterres is the only candidate.
He said the selection will take place during Estonia’s presidency, calling it “a very important event."
Describing the process, Jurgenson said the Security Council will hold a private meeting and adopt a communique on the discussion and outcome. Then, a draft resolution will be circulated with the council’s selection, which hopefully will be adopted by acclamation though any member can call for a vote, he said.
Jurgenson said he will then send the resolution to the assembly president with a letter, and Bozkir will then decide when to hold a General Assembly meeting to adopt the recommendation. “Hopefully, it will all happen quite soon, inside one week or so,” he said.
Jurgenson said he plans to meet with Bozkir on Thursday, and the timetable for the selection will probably be decided at that time.
Before Guterres was elected, the assembly adopted a resolution in 2015 that made the previously largely secretive selection of the secretary-general more open and transparent. It allowed the world body’s member states for the first time to see basic information about all candidates, including their resumes, and to meet and question them at open sessions.
Guterres laid out his vision for a second term as U.N. chief on May 7, calling for a “surge in diplomacy for peace,” urging the world’s nations to avoid a new type of Cold War, and saying that in the 21st century everything from the climate crisis to nuclear proliferation and the pushback on human rights is inter-linked.
He painted a grim picture of a world where “more and more people live within their own echo chambers ... (and) are lured by misinformation, populism, extremism, xenophobia and racism.”
Guterres reiterated his warning about “the new geostrategic divide and dysfunctional power relations, making international cooperation infinitely more difficult at a time when we need it most.”
But he also stressed his strong belief in nations working together to solve the world’s crises and conflicts. He said multilateralism “depends a lot on the establishment of trust among member states, and on making functional relationship among the biggest powers.”
Guterres then answered questions from many ambassadors and received support for a second term from two major groups -- the 120-member Nonaligned Movement of mainly developing nations and the 27-member European Union -- as well as smaller groups and individual countries.