PRESS BRIEFING BY BRENDEN VARMA, SPOKESPERSON FOR GENERAL ASSEMBLY PRESIDENT VOLKAN BOZKIR

PRESIDENT TO ENSURE TRANSPARENCY & INCLUSIVITY IN SECRETARY-GENERAL SELECTION PROCESS

  • The President is currently meeting virtually with representatives of the Accountability, Coherence and Transparency (ACT) Group, a cross-regional group of around 25 Member States. That group recently wrote to the President about the selection and appointment process for the position of Secretary-General.
  • The President is expected to note to them his determination to ensure that the process this year remains guided by the principles of transparency and inclusiveness.
  • In that regard, the President circulated a letter to all Member States last night, in which he noted that he had started discussions with his Security Council counterpart on the selection and appointment process.
  • He wrote: “As required by resolution 69/321, to start the process of soliciting candidates for the position of Secretary-General, I will shortly issue a joint letter with the President of the Security Council containing a description of the process. I am committed to ensuring that the selection process remains as inclusive and transparent as possible, and to ensuring all Member States are kept informed throughout.”
  • In that letter, he enclosed his recent exchange of communications with the Secretary-General on this matter.
  • Asked when the General Assembly would complete the process and appoint the Secretary-General, the Spokesperson said he did not have a set timeline to share at this point. Previous processes had wrapped up in June. However, he could not confirm that this same timeline would be followed this year. The Spokesperson pledged to keep the press informed in that regard.
  • The Spokesperson was asked whether COVID-19 might affect the election process through logistical delays or protocol differences. The Spokesperson first clarified that this was not an “election” but rather a “selection” and noted that, according to the UN Charter, the Secretary-General was “appointed by the General Assembly upon the recommendation of the Security Council.” He added that he could not speculate on how COVID-19 might affect this year’s process, as the exact process had not yet been determined.
  • The Spokesperson recalled that this was the first time that an incumbent was seeking a second term under the new more transparent and inclusive process agreed in 2015. Thus, there was nothing set in stone about exact procedures. He said more details would hopefully be contained in the joint letter that the President of the General Assembly and Security Council intended to send to Member States. As soon as that letter was sent, it would be posted on the President’s web site in the spirit of transparency.

PRESIDENT TO PRESENT SECURITY COUNCIL COUNTERPART WITH DRAFT JOINT LETTER ON SECRETARY-GENERAL SELECTION PROCESS

  • At 3:30 p.m. today, the President will hold his regular monthly coordination meeting with the President of the Security Council for the month of January – the Ambassador of Tunisia.
  • Expected topics of discussion include: challenges faced by countries in fragile contexts, particularly in Africa; strengthening international counter-terrorism cooperation; and the Secretary-General selection process.
  • On that last item, the President will present a draft joint letter to his Security Council counterpart for his consideration and approval by Council members.

OCEANS TO BE DISCUSSED IN MEETING WITH INTERNATIONAL SEABED AUTHORITY

  • The President will meet virtually this afternoon at 2:30 with the Secretary-General of the International Seabed Authority.
  • Expected topics of discussion include: Sustainable Development Goal 14 which covers life below water; the annual omnibus resolution on oceans and law of the sea, which was adopted on 31 December 2020; and the UN Ocean Conference.

OTHER ITEMS

  • UNRWA: Asked if the President had any concrete ideas to address the financial crisis being faced by the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), the Spokesperson noted that the President had spoken repeatedly about his strong support for UNRWA and its mandate. Regarding any personal ideas the President may have, the Spokesperson urged the journalist to address that question to the President himself at the President’s press conference on Friday.
  • CYPRUS: Asked whether the President would attend any meetings associated with proposed upcoming talks on Cyprus, the Spokesperson said the President had no such plans, as that was outside his purview