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UN Reform: selecting the next Secretary-General

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How should our next UN Secretary-General be chosen? On 24 April, The Elders and the International Peace Institute teamed up to debate how we can make the Secretary-General process fair and transparent.


Up to now, the UN Secretary-General has effectively been chosen by the five permanent members of the Security Council, who negotiate among themselves behind closed doors. Meanwhile, the rest of the world is told little about the process by which candidates are identified or the criteria by which they are judged.

Can the process of choosing a UN Secretary-General be made more transparent and democratic? And why hasn't the selection process been reformed by now?

To answer these questions, The Elders and the International Peace Institute hosted a debate in New York on how the next UN Secretary-General should be chosen.

The participants were:

  • Natalie Samarasinghe, Executive Director of the UN Association of the UK;

  • Jean Krasno, a Distinguished Fellow of International Security Studies at Yale University;

  • Edward Mortimer, Senior Advisor to The Elders for UN Reform and a Distinguished Fellow at All Souls College, Oxford University.

The Chair was Ambassador Hardeep Singh Puri, Vice-President of the International Peace Institute, Secretary-General of the Independent Commission on Multilateralism and former Permanent Representative of India to the UN.

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