Georgieva won’t run for UN Secretary General

Kristalina Georgieva [Georgi Gotev]

Kristalina Georgieva [Georgi Gotev]

The Bulgarian government announced today (8 February) that Commission Vice President Kristalina Georgieva will continue with her duties – putting an end to expectations that she would run for UN Secretary General to replace Ban Ki-moon, whose second term expires on 31 December 2016.

A brief press release published on the website of the Bulgarian government, states that Georgieva spoke on the phone with Prime Minister Boyko Borissov. Reportedly, she told him that the political situation in Europe, the refugee crisis, the discussed EU reforms and her duties as Commissioner responsible for the budget and human resources require her to dedicate all her time to these matters.

The publication puts an end to the growing speculation that Borissov would nominate Georgieva as Bulgaria’s candidate for UN Secretary General. The nomination procedure is already open and several EU countries have notified the UN about their candidates.

The only official confirmation that Georgieva may be a candidate came from Margaritis Schinas, spokesperson for Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, who last November said that Georgieva had discussed “the possibility that this issue may arise”.

>> Read: Georgieva to run for UN Secretary-General

Today’s development opens the door for Bulgaria’s most-obvious candidate, Irina Bokova – who currently leads the United Nations largest agency UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation) to get the nomination.

>> Read: Bulgaria puts forward Bokova’s candidacy for UN Secretary-General

Bokova was the official candidate of the government, but diplomats disclosed that a few months ago they had received instructions to lobby for her campaign, but that the next day they had received another cable telling them that the previous instruction was invalid.

It is the turn of Eastern Europe to lead the world organisation. A strong candidate from this part of the world, especially a woman, would be well-placed to take the post.

According to reports, Slovenia nominated its former President, Damilo Turk, Croatia nominated its former Minister of Foreign Affairs, Vesna Pusi?, Slovakia has nominated its Foreign Minister, Miroslav Laj?ák, and Portugal said it would nominate the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, António Guterres.

The choice of UNSG is governed by Article 97 of the UN Charter in just seventeen words: "The Secretary-General shall be appointed by the General Assembly upon the recommendation of the Security Council."

To be recommended, a prospective Secretary-General must receive the votes of 9 members of the Council and no vetoes. Thus the Charter provides for two distinct stages: The Security Council, a principal organ of the UN, is responsible for the first, the selection of the proposed SG. The General Assembly has the second, the power of appointment. In 1946 the Assembly asked the Council to recommend a single person, and to handle the matter privately. So it has been since.

On 11 September 2015, the five permanent members of the 15-member United Nations Security Council, under pressure from the broader membership of the 193-member Organization, accepted an intrusive role for the General Assembly, in which all members are represented, in the selection of the Secretary-General, heretofore handled in secrecy by the Security Council. Candidates for SG will be invited world-wide, and the full membership will be able to examine those candidates and their CVs in real time. There is the prospect of public grilling of aspirants.

It is expected that in January 2016 the President of the General Assembly of the UN and the President of the Security Council for the respective month would send letters to all 193 member countries, announcing the opening of the procedure. This would open the process of formal nominations. It is expected that by September 2016 the Security Council would make its decision for the next UN Secretary General.

The previous Secretary-Generals having been Ghana's Kofi Annan (1997-2006), Egypt's Boutros Boutros-Ghali (1992-1996), Peru's Javier Pérez de Cuéllar (1982-1991), Austria's Kurt Waldheim (1972-1981), Myanmar's U Thant (1961-1971), Sweden's Dag Hammarskjöld (1953-1961) and Norway's Trygve Lie (1946-1952).

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