UN council will meet June 8 to recommend next UN chief

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — The U.N. Security Council will meet June 8 to make its recommendation for the next secretary-general and almost certainly approve current U.N. chief Antonio Guterres who is the only candidate.

The recommendation from the 15-member council will then be sent to the president of the 193-member General Assembly, which must approve a resolution selecting the world’s top diplomat.

The Security Council revised its program of work late Thursday to add a private meeting next Tuesday morning entitled “Recommendation for the appointment of the secretary-general of the United Nations.”

Estonia’s Ambassador Sven Jurgenson, the council president for June, told a news conference Tuesday that even though there is only one candidate “the process is still the same.”

Traditionally, candidates for the U.N.’s top job have been nominated by a U.N. member state, but that is not a requirement in the U.N. Charter or a resolution adopted by the General Assembly in 2015 that made the previously largely secretive selection of the secretary-general more open and transparent. It allowed the world body’s member states for the first time to see basic information about all candidates, including their resumes, and to meet and question them at open sessions.

Guterres, a former Portuguese prime minister and U.N. refugee chief, was elected by the assembly to succeed Ban Ki-moon after a hotly contested and transparent race in October 2016 that initially included 13 candidates — seven women and six men. Guterres took office on Jan. 1, 2017.

This year, seven individuals submitted applications to be secretary-general without backing from any government, including most recently former Ecuadorian President Rosalia Arteaga.

Guterres, whose five-year term ends Dec. 31, was the only applicant nominated by a U.N. member state, his home country Portugal. He followed the 2015 process, holding a lengthy open question and answer session with U.N. diplomats in the General Assembly last month and then meeting privately with Security Council members.

General Assembly President Volkan Bozkir told reporters last month “the rule” is that an applicant can only become a candidate when a letter signed jointly by the presidents of the assembly and the Security Council is sent to all member states.

He said, “It looks like the Security Council has the opinion that, traditionally, only applicants supported by a country can become a candidate,” so the only joint letter has been sent on behalf of Guterres. Estonia’s Jurgenson confirmed the council’s position, noting the other applicants but telling reporters Tuesday that “legally and officially only states can present candidates.”

Jurgenson said the Security Council will hold a private meeting and adopt a communique on the discussion and outcome. Then, a draft resolution will be circulated with the council’s selection, which hopefully will be adopted by acclamation though any member can call for a vote, he said.

Jurgenson said he will then send the resolution to the assembly president with a letter, and Bozkir will then decide when to hold a General Assembly meeting to adopt the recommendation in a resolution. “Hopefully, it will all happen quite soon, inside one week or so,” he said.

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