UNITED NATIONS —
Are you a good problem solver? Excellent administrator? Discreet? Multilingual? Do you enjoy lots of business travel? Can you soothe the egos of dictators and bring world powers into line?
Are you a woman? Better yet, from Eastern Europe?
If the answer to one or more of these questions is “yes,” perhaps you should consider running for the post of U.N. secretary-general.
The current chief, Korean diplomat Ban Ki-moon, is entering his final year in the job, and U.N. member states officially began the search for his successor Tuesday.
In a joint letter from the president of the U.N. General Assembly and the current president of the Security Council to all 193 member states, nations are invited to submit names of qualified candidates.
This letter “fires the starting gun for the race to be the next secretary-general and will build on the work of the current secretary-general and his predecessors,” British Ambassador Matthew Rycroft told reporters.
General Assembly President Mogens Lykketoft said he hoped to have presentations from candidates beginning in late March or early April 2016. In July, the Security Council will begin its review of candidates and then recommend its choice to the wider membership, probably around September. The successful candidate will take office on January 1, 2017.
In the past, permanent members of the council, particularly the United States and Russia, had strong influence in deciding on one candidate to recommend to the General Assembly for final approval. By trying to institute a formal application process, member states are hoping to avoid such a fait accompli and get more of a say in who will lead them for the next decade.
For the first time, women are being encouraged to apply for the post of world’s top diplomat.
A candidate’s regional affiliation may also hurt or help in the process. The secretary-general position has been held by a man from every region of the world except for Eastern Europe. That bloc says it wants its turn, but it could face some opposition from those who say regional origin should not take precedence in the event there is a more qualified candidate from another part of the world.
Names of potential candidates have been circulating for months, but no single one has gained much traction.
Lykketoft said that among the early official entrants are Srgjan Kerim, a former U.N. General Assembly president from Macedonia, and Vesna Pusíc, the female foreign minister of Croatia.
While the job comes with significant perks — including a large house and a hefty salary — whoever moves into the big office on the 38th floor of U.N. headquarters also will inherit a daunting list of political and humanitarian crises, wars and other challenges.