The Next UN Secretary-General: Meet the Candidates


Civic Hall - 13 April - 1st New York Candidates' Debate - Watch Podcast of debate here

The Barbican - 3 June - London Candidates' Debate - Watch Podcast of debate here

The Graduate Center - 13 July - 2nd New York Candidates' Debate - Watch Podcast of debate here

Vuk Jeremic, Christiana Figueres and Danilo Turk debate at The Graduate Center, NY

Igor Lukšić, Vuk Jeremić and António Guterres at The Barbican, London

Igor Lukšić,  Danilo Türk, Natalia Gherman and Vesna Pusic, with The Guardian's Mark Rice-Oxley, at Civic Hall, NY

Photos and highlights of all the London and New York debates can be found here.

This year, the world must choose a new Secretary-General of the United Nations.

To contribute to a more transparent and open selection process, FUNDS joined forces with UNA-UK (co-founder of the 1 for 7 billion campaign), and The Guardian, to hold the first ever public UN Secretary-General candidates' debate, at Civic Hall in New York on 13 April; the largest public debate ever, at the barbican Centre in London on 3 June; and a third debate, including more recently nominated candidates, at The Graduate Center, CUNY, in New York on 13 July.

The post of UN Secretary-General is said to be the world’s most impossible job. It is also one of the most important. For the first time in UN history, candidates are openly competing to become the next UN Secretary-General, publically outlining their vision for the future of the UN. From climate change to armed conflict, extremism to pandemics, many of the world’s defining problems transcend borders and require global solutions. In an increasingly polarised world facing multiple crises, only the UN can step up to meet the complex challenges.

A Secretary-General can save lives. We need the best possible person for the job: a highly-qualified and visionary leader, equipped to deal with the world's crises, not afraid to stand up to powerful Member States, and ready to make tough decisions - including when it comes to internal UN reform.

The first debate, at New York's Civic Hall on 13 April 2016, was moderated by the Guardian’s Julian Borger and Mark Rice-Oxley who put tough questions to four of the (at the time) eight candidates who had been nominated so far:

Natalia Gherman, former Deputy Prime Minister, Republic of Moldova

Igor Lukšić, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Montenegro

Vesna Pusić, former Minister of Foreign and European Affairs, Republic of Croatia

Danilo Türk, former President, Republic of Slovenia

Our second public debate, to which all nominated candidates were invited, was held at the iconic Barbican centre in London on 3 June 2016, and was the largest public Next SG event held to date - with over 1,500 people in the audience.

Three candidates attended on 3 June:

António Guterres, former UN High Commissioner for Refugees and former Prime Minister of Portugal

Vuk Jeremić, President of the Centre for International Relations and Sustainable Development, and former Minister of Foreign Affairs, Serbia

Igor Lukšić, former Prime Minister, and current Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Montenegro

The third public debate in the series took place at the Graduate Center, City University of New York -- in partnership with UNA-UK and Global Citizen -- and welcomed three of the candidates vying for the UN’s top job: 

Christiana Figueres – Former Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, nominated by Costa Rica

Vuk Jeremić – former President of the UN General Assembly and former Foreign Minister of Serbia

Danilo Türk – Chair of the Global Fairness Initiative and former President of Slovenia

These events represent a piece of history in the making. Secretary-Generals are usually chosen behind closed doors, like a pope or a Nobel prize winner. This year however, a popular movement - the One for Seven Billlion Campaign - of which FUNDS is an active member, emerged calling for more openness so the public can vet who the powerful select. 

Twelve candidates have already declared, and all have been invited to make their case for the right to succeed Ban Ki-moon and become the ninth Secretary-General at these three and many other public and media appearances around the world, making this the most transparent and closely scrutinized UNSG selection process ever.

Should it be a woman for the first time? Is it Eastern Europe's turn? Who has the clout to stand up to the Security Council? And what are the big priorities that need urgent action? How can the UN be made more efficient and effective? All these questions and more were tackled face-to-face at our three lively public debates.

During the second half of 2016, the selection process is moving into the domain of the Security Council and is expected to become less open; but the public have already had a chance to hear and question the candidates. As FUNDS co-Director Thomas G. Weiss said at our 1st New York debate: "we have increased the costs to the Security Council of making a bad decision.”

Information about all the candidates for Secretary-General is available on the website of the President of the General Assembly.

The results of the recent FUNDS Survey on the Next Secretary-General are available here.