Statement by H.E. Mr. Timo Soini – New Secretary General: Transformed Process, Transforming the UN?

New Secretary General: Transformed Process, Transforming the UN?

Statement by H.E. Mr. Timo Soini, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Finland.
UN General Assembly 71, New York, 21 September 2016.

Check against delivery

The selection of the next Secretary General of the United Nations is just around the corner. During the past year many essential and long overdue steps have been taken to increase the transparency, inclusiveness and structure of the selection process.

For the first time we know the names and qualifications of the candidates. The candidates have shared their visions on the future or the organization. The interactive dialogues with the candidates in the General Assembly were a success beyond expectations, much thanks to the able design and orchestration by the former President of the General Assembly, Mr. Lykketoft. These steps have enabled everyone to form an informed opinion on who would be the best person to represent the membership as whole. Sense of ownership by the member states means a stronger mandate for the next Secretary General.

At this point of the process, all eyes are on the Security Council. The General Assembly and the civil society have raised their voices loud and clear for transparency. We expect the Security Council to respect the new selection process and act in the spirit of it. We strongly encourage the Security Council to inform the wider membership on developments of the nomination process.

The steps taken during the past year are a starting point. The selection process still leaves much room for improvement. Our common efforts for creating a clear timeline for the selection and nomination, needs to continue. To ensure that the future leader of the organization has enough time to prepare, the selection process should be finalized as early as possible, preferably three months prior to the assumption of the office. Also, a fixed deadline for the nominations should be considered. We strongly encourage the new President of the General Assembly to hold informal hearings to any potential new candidates.

The first woman to break the glass ceiling as Assistant Secretary-General was a Finn. Today, more than 40 years later, the glass ceiling to the 38th floor still remains unbroken. Competency, regional representation as well as gender balance must all be taken into consideration in the selection. Be the next Secretary General female or male, even more important than the person, is her or his commitment to advocate gender equality throughout the structures and actions of the United Nations.

Lastly, the achievements reached so far were only possible with support from the civil society and the wider international community, especially the Elders group.  I would also like to commend the crucial role of Ambassadors of Croatia and Namibia in facilitating the milestone resolutions on revitalization, and the tireless efforts by the ACT-group to bring more inclusivity and transparency to the selection process of Secretary General. Let's continue to work for this common goal.