SELECTING AND APPOINTING
THE SECRETARY-GENERAL

The position of Secretary-General is one of great importance that requires a person with the highest standards of efficiency, competence and integrity, and a firm commitment to the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations.

The position of Secretary-General is one of great importance that requires a person with the highest standards of efficiency, competence and integrity, and a firm commitment to the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations.

As per Article 97 of the Charter, the Secretary-General is appointed by the General Assembly on the recommendation of the Security Council. In 2015, the General Assembly adopted a landmark resolution that set out a new transparent, open and inclusive process to select and appoint the Secretary-General.

This process was successfully implemented during the 70th session of the General Assembly. For the first time, there was a clearly defined nomination procedure. Candidates were invited to provide a vision statement and were able to participate in informal dialogues with the entire General Assembly. Unlike in previous years, civil society and the wider global public were able to engage with the candidates. The process culminated with the General Assembly appointing Mr. António Guterres as Secretary-General on 13 October 2016.

The five-year term of Mr. Guterres concludes on 31 December 2021.

The President of the 75th session of the General Assembly, H.E. Mr. Volkan Bozkir, is committed to ensuring that the selection and appointment process remains guided by the principles of transparency and inclusivity. Working closely with the President of the Security Council, he will ensure that all relevant General Assembly mandates related to the selection and appointment process are fully implemented.

General Assembly resolution 69/321 requests the Presidents of the General Assembly and Security Council to “start the process of soliciting candidates for the position of Secretary-General through a joint letter addressed to all Member States.” This letter was circulated on 5 February 2021. 

On 26 February, Portugal presented the incumbent Secretary-General, Mr Antonio Guterres, for re-appointment to the position of Secretary-General.

Committed to upholding the practice of informal dialogues with candidates as envisioned in resolution 69/321, the President of the seventy-fifth session of the General Assembly, H.E. Mr. Volkan Bozkir, held an informal interactive dialogue with Mr Guterres on 7 May 2021 in the General Assembly Hall.

Civil society representatives and individuals were invited, via an online form, to submit their questions for the interactive dialogues.

On 8 June 2021, the Security Council adopted by acclamation a resolution recommending to the General Assembly that Mr. António Guterres be appointed Secretary-General of the United Nations for a second term of office from 1 January 2022 to 31 December 2026

SELECTION AND APPOINTMENT PROCESS

Step 1

Joint letter 

A joint letter is sent by the Presidents of the General Assembly and Security Council to officially launch the selection and appointment process for the position of Secretary-General. 

Presentation of candidates

The Presidents of the General Assembly and Security Council will jointly circulate to all Member States, on an ongoing basis, the names of individuals that have been submitted for consideration. The names and supporting documents will also be published on this webpage. 

Step 2

Step 3

Vision statement and dialogue

Candidates for the position of Secretary-General will be invited to submit a vision statement and to participate in an informal dialogue with Member States. Informal dialogues with candidates in the General Assembly will take place before the Security Council begins its selection by May or June 2021, and may continue, if necessary, throughout the process of selection. 

Security Council recommendation

As per the Charter, the Security Council makes a recommendation to the General Assembly. Since 1996, the Council had voted unanimously to recommend one candidate to the General Assembly. Last time, the relevant resolution was: S/RES/2311 (2016).

Step 4

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Step 5

Appointment by the General Assembly

The General Assembly appoints the Secretary-General through a resolution. In the past, the draft resolution has been submitted by the President of the General Assembly and adopted by consensus. Last time, the relevant resolution was: A/RES/71/4.

Start of the Secretary-General’s mandate 

The term of the Secretary-General begins on 1 January 2022. The term length will be specified in the relevant selection and appointment resolutions by the Security Council and General Assembly. Recent Secretaries-General have been appointed for five-year terms.

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Step 6

CANDIDATES

The following candidates for the position of Secretary-General have been presented thus far:

António Guterres

António Guterres (Portugal)

António Guterres, the ninth Secretary-General of the United Nations, took office on 1st January 2017.

Having witnessed the suffering of the most vulnerable people on earth, from refugee camps to war zones, the Secretary-General has centered his efforts on ensuring human dignity for all. In a period of unprecedented global challenges, he has drawn on his commitment to the UN Charter to mobilize people and launch action to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, address the climate emergency, advance gender equality, and achieve ambitious 21st century reforms to enhance the Organization’s vital efforts to secure peace, sustainable development, human rights and humanitarian aid.

Prior to his appointment as Secretary-General, Mr. Guterres served as United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees from June 2005 to December 2015, heading one of the world’s foremost humanitarian organizations during some of the most serious displacement crises in decades and in a period in which the number of people displaced by conflict and persecution rose from 38 million in 2005 to over 60 million in 2015.

As president of the European Council in early 2000, he led the adoption of the Lisbon Agenda for growth and jobs, and co-chaired the first European Union-Africa summit. He was a member of the Portuguese Council of State from 1991 to 2002.
Mr. Guterres was elected to the Portuguese Parliament in 1976 where he served as a member for 17 years. During that time, he chaired the Parliamentary Committee for Economy, Finance and Planning, and later the Parliamentary Committee for Territorial Administration, Municipalities and Environment. He was also leader of his party’s parliamentary group.
From 1981 to 1983, Mr. Guterres was a member of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, where he chaired the Committee on Demography, Migration and Refugees.

For many years Mr. Guterres was active in the Socialist International, a worldwide organization of social democratic political parties. He was the group’s vice-president from 1992 to 1999, co-chairing the African Committee and later the Development Committee. He served as President from 1999 until mid-2005. In addition, he founded the Portuguese Refugee Council as well as the Portuguese Consumers Association DECO, and served as president of the Centro de Acção Social Universitário, an association carrying out social development projects in poor neighborhoods of Lisbon, in the early 1970s.

Mr. Guterres is a member of the Club of Madrid, a leadership alliance of democratic former presidents and prime ministers from around the world.

Mr. Guterres was born in Lisbon in 1949 and graduated from the Instituto Superior Técnico with a degree in engineering. He is fluent in Portuguese, English, French and Spanish. He is married to Catarina de Almeida Vaz Pinto, Deputy Mayor for Culture of Lisbon, and has two children, a stepson and three grandchildren.