Philippines / China – Student
Do you believe that the Secretary-General should be limited in his or her powers, by only implementing the will of the Member States of the United Nations, rather than acting independently, in pursuit of the common good?
Ms. Helen Clark’s answer
The Charter in Chapter 1 Article 1 sets out the purposes of the United Nations as maintaining international peace and security and developing friendly relations among nations. The Secretary-General must be guided by the Charter and always do her or his best to make sure that the UN acts for the global common good.
Mr. Miroslav Lajčák’s answer
I believe in a well-balanced mixture of both: thorough implementation of the decisions member states make as well as responsible independence in pursuing the common good. The United Nations Charter gives the Secretary-General seemingly limited powers but provides for a generous scope of action: from being the Chief Administrative Officer overseeing the work of over 40 000 employees in providing support to member states and executing demanding mandates to strategic planning and operational control over peacekeeping operations and last but not least, Art. 99 allows the SG to play an important political role and responsibility in alerting the Council when there are situations that s/he feels require its engagement. Over the years, the role of the SG in the area of peace and security evolved significantly. As part of his good offices and mediation role, the independence and impartiality of the SG is essential and unchallengeable in preventing and stopping conflicts.
As I mentioned during my interaction with UN General Assembly (Interactive Dialogue), the UNSG could be entrusted with more managerial flexibility in return for enhanced accountability.
Dr. Igor Lukšić’s answer
UN Secretary-General has to demonstrate the commitment to perform duties as good as possible, since the expectations and needs are high and pressing and for all moral reasons one really can’t afford to be calculative as to his/her next term, when millions of people look to you to provide crucial and decisive leadership for attaining Charter principles. The role of the next UN Secretary-General will not be to reinvent the wheel but to successfully deliver on already vast agenda. In doing so, there has to be constant consultations, constant dialogue with Member States in order to overcome doubts and wrong assumptions. The Secretary-General should really exercise the role of chief diplomat, honest broker. The only way to measure the mettle of a Secretary-General is by looking at his or her results eventually. And these results should be achieved by respecting the principles enshrined in the UN Charter.
Dr. Danilo Türk’s answer
The Secretary General has to serve the Organization in a creative way. His powers are determined by the UN Charter and by the mandates provided by the UN Member States. The Secretary – General has to implement these mandates and in doing so develop the necessary partnerships – with member states, the civil society groups, business community and academia. And, above all, the Secretary – General must be imaginative in carrying out his mandate to provide his good offices and advice whenever necessary and possible.