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General Assembly Resolutions and Other Related Documentation

1946

General Assembly Resolution 11(I) dated January 24, 1946

This resolution stipulates that it is desirable for the Security Council to “proffer one candidate only” and “for debate on the nomination in the General Assembly to be avoided.” It also states that the first Secretary-General shall be appointed for five years, with the option of reappointment for a further five-year term. It further specifies that the recommendation of a Secretary-General by the Security Council is a “substantive decision” and that the negative vote of a permanent member can prevent the adoption of a resolution setting out a recommendation.

1996

Informal Paper commonly referred to as “Wisnamurti Guidelines” written by Indonesian Ambassador Nugroho Wisnamurti dated November 12, 1996

This informal paper summarizes the Secretary-General selection process to date and resulted after a Security Council lunch meeting occurred on November 12, 1996, when Wisnamurti was President of the Security Council. Although the paper was never formalized, copies were distributed to members and the guidelines included therein have been mostly respected and followed.

1997

General Assembly Resolution 51/241 dated August 22, 1997

This resolution provides details regarding the timing of the appointment: “[T]o ensure a smooth and efficient transition, the Secretary-General should be appointed as early as possible, preferably no later than one month before the date on which the term of the incumbent expires.” (paragraph 61)

The resolution also sets forth the principles of regional rotation and gender equality in the identification and appointment of the candidates, stating that “due regard shall continue to be given to regional rotation and shall also be given to gender equality.”

2006

General Assembly Resolution 60/286 dated September 8, 2006

This resolution includes decisions on revisions to the process for appointing the Secretary-General.

General Assembly Resolution 60/286 dated October 9, 2006

This resolution calls for sufficient time to allow the candidates to meet with Member States and also requests that candidates present their views to all Member States.

2015

General Assembly Report of the Ad Hoc Working Group on the Revitalization of the Work of the General Assembly dated September 3, 2015, A/69/1007

This report discusses the selection and appointment of the Secretary-General and other executive heads of the United Nations system. The report summarizes the main arguments of heard statements from 33 delegations, which occurred during a meeting on April 27, 2015, regarding transparency and procedural concerns involved in the Secretary-General selection process.

General Assembly Resolution 69/103 dated September 11, 2015

This resolution reiterates that gender equality is an important consideration in the selection process.

General Assembly Resolution 69/321 dated September 11, 2015

This resolution provides, in the following provisions, the most significant guidance as to what the 2016 Secretary-General selection process will entail:

(a) “Reiterates that the process of selecting and appointing the Secretary-General differs from the process used with regard to other executive heads in the organizations of the United Nations system (…) and emphasizes in particular that the process of selection of the Secretary-General shall be guided by the principles of transparency and inclusiveness, building on best practices and the participation of all Member States;”

(b) “Stresses the need to ensure equal and fair distribution based on gender and geographical balance, while meeting the highest possible requirements, on the appointment of executive heads of the Organization, including the Secretary-General, and in this regard invites Member States to consider presenting women as candidates for the position of Secretary-General” and

(c) “Notes that the selection and appointment of the next Secretary-General is expected to take place in 2016, and as a result requests, without prejudice to the role of the principal organs as enshrined in Article 97 of the Charter, the Presidents of the General Assembly, in particular those at the seventieth and seventy-first sessions of the Assembly, to actively support this process in accordance with the role accorded to them by relevant resolutions, including the present resolution.”

Joint Letter by the President of the General Assembly and the President of the Security Council to Member States calling for the Appointment of a Secretary-General dated December 15, 2015

This letter “lays out the principles for transparency and inclusivity” in the 2016 Secretary-General selection process. Further, it states that “the position of Secretary-General is one of great importance and requires the highest standards of efficiency, competence and integrity.” The letter also stresses the importance of equal opportunity for women and men and notes the regional diversity in the selection process. It invites Member States to present candidates to the President of the General Assembly or the President of the Security Council via a formal letter. Finally, it sets a rough criteria that candidates must have “proven leadership and managerial abilities, extensive experience in international relations, and strong diplomatic, communication and multilingual skills.”

2016

Letter by the President of the General Assembly to Member States detailing the process for meetings with candidates for Secretary-General dated February 25, 2016

This letter reiterates many of the same points discussed in documents issued in 2015, regarding transparency in the Secretary-General Selection process. It states that in order to meet these new standards, meetings will be arranged with candidates beginning on April 12-14, 2016 and that such meetings will be open and webcast. Additionally, a preliminary agenda for such meetings is included.