The UN Security Council holds its first informal poll on Thursday on the dozen candidates competing to succeed Ban Ki-moon as secretary-general on January 1.
The 15 council members have decided to keep the vote secret a sharp contrast to the informal “straw” polls 10 years ago which were made public and led to Ban’s election to the world’s top diplomatic post.
Japan’s UN Ambassador Koro Bessho, who holds the rotating council presidency, reiterated Wednesday that he would only be confirming that the poll was held behind closed doors.
According to the UN Charter, the secretary-general is chosen by the 193-member General Assembly on the recommendation of the Security Council.
In practice, this has meant that the council’s five permanent members the US, Russia, China, Britain and France have veto power over the candidates.
By tradition, the job of secretary-general has rotated among regions and Asia, Africa, Latin America and Europe have all held the top post. East European nations, including Russia, argue that they have never had a secretary-general and it is their turn.
There has also never been a woman secretary-general and a group of 56 nations are campaigning for the first female UN chief.
The 12 candidates include six men and six women eight from Eastern Europe, two from Latin America, one from Western Europe and one from the Asia-Pacific region.
For the first time this year the General Assembly held two-hour webcast hearings where candidates made their case to be the next secretary-general and answered questions from UN member states. For the first time, each candidate has also met informally with Security Council members behind closed doors for an hour, Japan’s Bessho said.
Britain’s UN Ambassador Matthew Rycroft said yesterday that “the added transparency and all the other improvements in the process that the UK and others have advocated have increased the chances of the UN having a stronger next secretary-general than it otherwise would have had.”
According to council diplomats, the 15 council members will receive ballots for each of the 12 candidates with three choices: “encourage,” ”discourage” and “no opinion.”
The result for each candidate will be conveyed to the ambassador from the candidate’s country, who will also be told the highest and lowest votes, with no names, the diplomats said.