The next UN Secretary-General will be a woman. (My guess)

It seems there is a strong movement towards having a woman as the next UN Secretary General. What do you think about this idea, and in general what should be the characteristics of any good UN Secretary General? Read few comments.

Sam DawsDirector, Project on UN Governance and Reform, Centre for International Studies, University of Oxford

It is now time for the world to appoint a woman to the position of UN Secretary-General, after eight men in succession. There are plenty of strong, credible and effective female candidates who would make excellent leaders of this important world Organisation.

It is essential that the next Secretary-General be an effective communicator in the media, and have experience of navigating the world of multilateral negotiations. She or he needs sufficient humility to negotiate agreements among world leaders, combined with the courage to speak out on behalf of the seven billion citizens of this planet when required to do so in defence of the UN Charter.

Martin EdwardsAssociate Professor and Director, Center for UN and Global Governance Studies, Seton Hall University

No one is suggesting that gender be the only factor that matters, and the good news is that there is no shortage of impressive candidates for the Secretary General position. 12 out of the 40 members of the Secretary General’s Senior Management team are women, and this includes Helen Clark of UNDP and Alicia Ibarra of ECLAC, both of whom are rumored to be candidates.

The idea behind the She4SG campaign is great. Much of UN efforts are about calling attention to the status of women globally (witness the attention to gender in the Sustainable Development Goals as well as the creation of UNWomen), so calling attention to a broader circle of candidates for the public face of the UN is an idea whose time has simply come.

As an aside, it’s worth noting that there was no controversy when Christine Lagarde became the first female Managing Director at the IMF.

In terms of the skillsets that we should look for a SecGen to have, I’d focus on three. We should want someone with a good record of public communication (because the UN needs a public face to explain to the world what it does), experience managing a large organization (to make sure that bureaucracy stays focused and efficient) and a great record of reconciling diverse stakeholders(because bringing people together is a constant challenge).

Daniel Serwer, Senior Research Professor of Conflict Management, Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, John Hopkins University, Scholar, Middle East Institute

I think it is high time to have a woman as UN Secretary General. She would need to be someone who met the usual criteria: lots of experience in international affairs, a good relationship with the governments of the five permanent members of the Security Council, backing both from her own government and her region, courage and commitment in pursuing the goals of the United Nations and diplomatic savvy about how to do so


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