Statement by First Deputy Permanent Representative Dmitry Polyanskiy at the Ad Hoc Working Group on the Revitalization of the Work of the General Assembly
We are thankful for convening this thematic debate on the selection and appointment of the Secretary-General and other executive heads of the UN.
Over the recent years, resolutions on revitalization of the General Assembly have introduced some novelties to the selection and appointment of the Secretary-General, that i.a. aim to enhance transparency of this procedure and increase involvement of Member States. Russia has taken active part in the endorsement of these resolutions. We stand ready to continue working on reasonable – I underline this – optimization of the existing practice.
We proceed from the assumption that all the ideas on this matter need to be thoroughly studied in terms of their compliance with the UN Charter in the first place. In particular, I am talking about Article 97 of the Charter, which enshrines that Secretary-General should be appointed by the General Assembly upon the recommendation of the Security Council. We should also bear in mind that the main task is to select the most deserving candidate. The ambition to excessively codify this procedure can entail significant implications.
For example, this applies to the proposal to introduce tight timelines for nomination. Such regulations would mean that in case a worthy candidate was put forward after the deadline, the Security Council would not be able to consider them. Complicated situations would emerge in case the Council approved of none of the original candidates. We believe it should be possible to remain flexible in terms of timeframes that define when the Council should make its choice.
We still believe it is not reasonable to focus on “gender aspects” when selecting the Secretary-General.
The decisions should be made depending on professionalism of the candidates in the first place. The worthiest one should be appointed, their gender being a secondary issue.
We regularly come to hear requests to increase “openness” of the selection of candidates. We proceed from the assumption that these requests should be “balanced” by the understanding of the delicate nature of this issue – it is about personal prestige of the candidates and about prestige of States that put them forward. In particular, we do not deem it reasonable to disclose the results of ranked choice votes that the Council holds on the candidates.
Using the “platform” of the General Assembly during campaigning should not disturb the scheduled activities of this body. The best format of candidates’ communication with Member States would be within regional groups, where the so called “interactive dialogues” could be more targeted and involving. We believe it necessary to avoid repeating such events with participation of candidates in the General Assembly and the Security Council.
The current number and duration of Secretary-General’s tenures is optimal. This scheme makes it possible to timely define whether he\she is worth being reappointed or not. Repeated proposals to start appointing the Secretary-General for a single 7-year term entail grave risks. Therein we see an attempt to “detach” the Secretary-General from the Organization, and to make them follow what we call “their own agenda” without due account of the opinions of Member States.
Given the importance of the topic of selection and appointment of the Secretary-General, we have concerns about the trend that adds something new to the “rules of the game” every year. At the very least, this is rather strange given the understanding that Secretary-General is elected once every five years. Let us not propose novelties in haste, but rather accumulate some tangible experience and thoroughly analyze it.