António Guterres is elected new UN Secretary General

I have to say I did not expect them to make a final decision today and so I felt a good bike ride would clear my head before unpicking the next round of voting. So one of the lessons for today is do not go on a bike ride while they are having the straw poll for the next UN Secretary General.

First the good news  António Guterres is a very good candidate for UN Secretary General he becomes the first former Prime Minister to  take the position. He was Prime Minister of Portugal from 1995 to 2002 and he also brings with it an understanding of the UN from his time as he served as United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees from June 2005 to December 2015. Finally he is a left of center politician having served as President of Socialist International.

He had led the voting since the beginning of the straw polls and today was elected with 13 encourage and 2 no views  and then under the Russian Presidency of the Security Council they reached consensus on Antonio Guterres. The United Nations General Assembly confirmed this on the 14th of October 2016.

Vitaly Churkin (Russian Federation) made the announcement that  selection process for the position of the next UN Secretary-General that they believe they have an agreement that the formal vote will take place tomorrow and Vitaly says he hopes it will be by "acclamation" in the Security Council and then go to the UN General Assembly for endorsement.

So unless there is a problem with one of the P5 then it is a done deal.

On the negative side there was enormous hope that the UN would choose a woman this time and that the regional rotation would continue. Neither of these happened. As many of you will know from my blogs a new woman candidate from Eastern Europe was proposed by Bulgaria Kristalina Georgieva (5,8,2) who actually did worse than Irina Bokova who the Bulgarian government withdrew support for (7,7,1). There was already concern being raised by countries.

Is Bokova the favourite for Deputy Secretary General?

Last week, the ambassador for Ukraine Volodymyr Yelchenko said that he wasn’t pleased with Georgieva’s entry. “She is too late... (and) The way it is done is not fully correct.” Christiana Figueres who had withdrawn on September 12th and had only joined the process in July had also suffered from being seen to join the process very late while Antonio had been one of the first to announce he was standing and clearly member states had adequate time to look at him and in the end decide that is who they wanted.

There will be a strong feeling by many that the selection of a man for the Secretary General this time round was the wrong decision. It does put a lot of pressure on Antonio to choose a woman as Deputy Secretary General.

Meanwhile I would like to congratulate  António Guterres on being elected new UN Secretary General and wish him success in his term of office. These are difficult times we are living through and we need a strong, calm and thoughtful head of the UN to take us through.


  1. Thank you Felix, I do think you made the right choice to go and bike. We should all do that much more. Warmly, Alide

  2. I think Mr. Guterres is an excellent choice. And I believe that the selection was done on the basis of merit so we should congratulate him and stop talking about his gender and nationality. I doubt that Ms. Bokova will be the Deputy. I think a woman will be the deputy but not one that was in the candidates for the job. I have a feeling that the deputy will be from another region also and not Europe (and Latin America seems to me the most possible region to give a DSG).

    The way that the candidacy of Ms. Georgieva was brought into the process made her more harm and I think that whoever advised her to apply was not a good adviser. And it was a bad result for the EC and European Union countries who should have been more respectful of the process in the UN and not try to circumvent it with a last minute candidate.

  3. Thanks Felix for the analysis during the process. I know Mr. Guterres personally and I believe that the choice was right and that he will do a great job as UN SG. Very happy with this result.


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