Security Council challenged on Annan successor
By Mark Turner at the United Nations
Published: April 18 2006 20:56 | Last updated: April
18 2006 20:56
Un Kofi AnnanThe United Nations Security Council will
on Wednesday face a challenge to its monopoly on
choosing a successor to Kofi Annan, the outgoing
At a General Assembly meeting, disgruntled second-tier
nations will ask why the 15-member Council and in
particular the US, China, France, Russia and Britain
should secretly control the most important decision
the organisation faces this year.
Mr Annans term ends this year and UN members hope to
choose a successor by September or October.
The UNs top official is traditionally chosen by the
Security Council behind closed doors, with the
191-member General Assembly relegated to
rubber-stamping the decision.
Canada has spearheaded calls for a fairer process,
saying recently: The lack of transparency and
inclusiveness of the exercise has become increasingly
notice-able, and the UN process compares poorly with
the practices of other international organisations.
Jan Eliasson, president of the UN General Assembly and
the incoming Swedish foreign minister, told the FT
there was a strong sense that the General Assemblys
role should become more meaningful and more
substantial than in earlier elections.
I find it in the interests of the UN, and the next
secretary-general, [that he or she] be appointed with
as much legitimacy as possible, he said.
New ideas include a process of hearings, briefings by
candidates to regional groups, or off-campus
seminars in UN-affiliated think- tanks.
There are also calls for the General Assembly to be
given more than one candidate to choose from, or to be
allowed to ask the Security Council to nominate an
The permanent five are trying to be sympathetic
towards these sentiments with promises of greater
transparency without surrendering the current wording
in the UN charter, which dictates that the
secretary-general shall be appointed by the General
Assembly upon the recommendation of the Security
In theory, this leaves room for greater General
Assembly involvement. However, a 1946 resolution
determined the Security Council should offer only one
name, and that any debate on the nomination should be
As a result, the General Assembly has had little
influence over the choice of secretaries-general for
most of its history, although in 1950 it extended the
term of the secretary-general Trygve Lie without a
recommendation from the Security Council.
In recent weeks, the Security Council has started to
brief the General Assembly president on its
deliberations, hoping to stave off calls for more
This is a consensus-building process. We have to
forget about the cold war mentality, says Wang
Guangya, the Chinese ambassador and current president
of the Security Council. However, he maintains that
the charter makes it clear that the Security Council
should play the key role.
Privately, many diplomats fear it is already too late
to introduce any real change this time round, and that
genuine reform will need to wait until 2011.
Many also expect that the decision over Mr Annans
successor will be dominated by the US and China,
particularly as the post is expected to go to an