Intervention by H.E. Ambassador Katalin Bogyay Permanent Representative at the Third Thematic Meeting of the Ad Hoc Working Group on the Revitalization of the work of the General Assembly: The selection and appointment of the Secretary-General and other executive heads on 22 March 2016.
While fully supporting the statements of the EEG, the Act Group and the EU, also made on behalf of Hungary, let me add the following comments in our national capacity.
With only three weeks until the first hearings in the General Assembly, our overall priority must be the smooth and transparent election of the next Secretary-General. Candidates, Member States, the General Assembly and the Security Council must adhere to resolution 69/231. We appreciate the new procedural requirements and the steps taken to implement them. These contribute to predictability, transparency and strengthen the new Secretary-General.
Hungary commends the PGA for organizing the hearings and for creating its modalities. Hungary encourages all candidates to participate in the hearings and urges the Security Council to take fully into consideration the candidates’ performance during the selection process.
Rules of GA resolution 69/231 should be applied throughout the process. In particular, the Security Council may make its recommendation to the General Assembly only from the pool of candidates duly nominated, as stipulated by the resolution.
As far as today’s meeting is concerned, agreed rules on the selection process must not be revisited by the Working Group. Any change or even prolonged discussions on possible changes of those rules would create uncertainty, and would therefore, be counterproductive.
A word of caution is also warranted with regard to our substantive decisions. Hungary welcomes the balance that the unanimous General Assembly reconfirmed for the three important principles, namely geographical rotation, gender balance, and best qualifications. We are concerned by some interpretations putting one or the other of the three principles ahead.
Unlike the principle on qualifications, gender balance and regional rotation are not solely about the candidates. Gender balance and adequate representation are the
most cherished principles of the United Nations. After 8 Secretary-Generals and fifteen terms, no woman was selected, and one regional group is still waiting for the opportunity. It would be high time for a well-qualified Eastern-European candidate, and we might find a good Eastern-European candidate who is also a woman.
However, this is not “only” about women or one regional group. This is about the image that this organization will project with regard to equality, diversity, equity and adequate representation. This is about the United Nations’ credibility in the world and in the eyes of the People.
Finally, let me tackle the outstanding issues. Based on our informal discussion on 9 February, I can be relatively brief. We are ready to explore, whether there is room for consensus on having a single non-renewable term for the future SGs, or on the Security Council recommending more than one candidate. One important issue is, whether new rules, if any, could be agreed on in such a time, to be applicable for the next Secretary-General.
On the number of candidates, the Council could decide already now, to put forward more than one candidate, as the GA resolution only talks about “preferably one candidate”. This also means that the GA has clearly left this decision in the hands of Council.
Therefore advocates, who would like to prescribe multiple candidates, have two hurdles to overcome. One is that the proposal requires a change in substance, and a long term tradition, where Council’s freedom on this matter would be replaced by the command of the Assembly.
The other hurdle is that seven candidates have entered the race with tradition and the text of the GA resolution in mind, that is, with the distant, heretofore non-existent possibility of multiple candidacy. Given the ramifications of having multiple candidates during the last phase of the race, the introduction of such a mandatory reversal would amount to the changing of the rules, very late in the game.
With regard to the idea related to the longer, single term appointment for the Secretary-General, Hungary supports a full discussion. Hungary notes that the introduction of the single term appointment could improve chances for the implementation of geographical rotation and gender balance, furthermore, it would provide certainty and predictability.
Such a decision on single term appointment cannot be taken on a case-by-case basis, but it must become the general norm for the future Secretaries-General to come. Decision barring or granting reappointment after candidates are known, or, even worse, a decision tied to the actual Secretary-General becomes an unwarranted vote of confidence, with no basis, whatsoever, to place it on.
We agree that the current process of re-appointment is defective. However, single term appointment is not the only option to cure those deficiencies. With the adoption of resolution 69/321, even if we decide against the one-term appointment, the reappointment process cannot be the same as it was for the last 70 years.
Thank You, Distinguished Co-Chairs!