Are public hearings important for the selection of the next UN Secretary-General?

As UN Sec Gen candidate hearings kick off  it is for the first time we see such public hearing with the candidates. How (un)important is it in your opinion? Could public hearings have a profound impact on selection? Read few comments.

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

The permanent members of the UN Security Council will again play a fundamental role in the selection of the next Secretary-General. But the spotlight of the new public hearings create a greater expectation that competence must be a criterion guiding that selection. The next Secretary-General must be politically-savvy, able to manage a large organisation and, importantly, serve as an eloquent spokesperson for the UN in the global media.

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

I think the public hearings are important, and they could be a big step forward for the organization as it strives to become more transparent. The fact that all of the eight announced candidates are attending the hearings suggests that the candidates think they are essential.

But this having been said, I don’t think the public hearings will necessarily affect the selection process. Each of these candidates are coming to these hearings prepared and poised, already having released their own vision statements. Because there are a large number of candidates, they have every incentive to play it safe. I don’t think you’ll hear anything surprising or shocking from the candidates. They will talk in generalities about the need to strengthen the UN, and avoid specifics lest they offend the P5.

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

I don’t think the hearings will determine who will be Secretary General, a decision that is made essentially by the five permanent members of the Security Council, which recommends one candidate to the General Assembly, where a two-thirds majority is required to make the appointment. But the hearings give the public an opportunity to hear how the candidates perform. If any of them were to make big mistakes, that could have an impact on the selection, but that is unlikely. The main issue will be political acceptability to the P5. The UN is not a democracy!


One Response

  1. These public hearings are to be welcomed. Of course, they are not going to be conclusive as the final decision will still be determined by the P5. If nothing else, they provides an unfortunate ‘opportunity’ for any candidate to unintentionally rule themselves out or damage whatever chances they may have had by performing badly in some way. This is an important development which was not there before. Also, the value, if any, of these hearings will be driven not so much by the candidates’ answers to all the questions but by what questions the representatives choose to ask. This aspect will be worth analysing carefully.

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