U.N. Chief Candidates Front Up for Live Debate

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July 15, 2016

Ten of the 12 candidates who have announced their candidacy to replace Ban Ki-Moon as United Nations Secretary-General took place in a live, televised debate.

It was a stark departure from previous selections of the Secretary-General. Since the founding of the U.N., in 1946, every Secretary-General has been chosen behind closed doors by China, France, Great Britain, Russia, and the United Nations – the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council.

Moon is retiring as Secretary-General at the end of 2016, after serving two five-year terms.

The debate, faciliated by the Al-Jazeera Media Network, took place at U.N. headquarters in New York, with the General Assembly as the audience. The debate too place in two parts, with each part featuring reporters and delegates asking questions of five candidates.

Among the topics discussed were such world-focused events as climate change and the civil war in Syria and such personal things as leadership style. Each candidate also gave an opening statement and a closing statement.

The 12 candidates are these:

  • Birina Bokova, former acting Bulgarian foreign minister and current director of UNESCO
  • Helen Clark, former prime minister of New Zealand and current head of the U.N. Development Program
  • Costa Rica’s Christiana Figueres, former U.N. climate chief
  • Natalia Gherman, former deputy prime minister of Moldova
  • Antonio Guterres, former prime minister of Portugal
  • Vuk Jeremic, former foreign minister of Serbia and also former U.N. General Assembly president
  • Srgjan Kerim, former foreign minister of Macedonia
  • Slovakia Foreign Minister Miroslav Lajcak
  • Former Montenegro Prime Minister Igor Luksic
  • Argentina’s Foreign Minister Susana Malcorra, who was Moon’s first chief of staff
  • Former Croatia deputy prime minister Vesna Pusic
  • Danilo Turk, former president of Slovenia.

Kerim and Lajcak did not participate in the debate.

The next step is for the Security Council to discuss, then for each member of the Security Council to express support for one of the candidates in the form of a secret ballot. The five permanent members of the Security Council will still make the ultimate nomination, and it is that nomination on which the entire General Assembly will vote later in the year.

The new Secretary-General’s term begins on Jan. 1, 2017.

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