May Monitor

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Latest Developments in UN Reform and Appointments:

Security Council Candidates Debate in First-Ever Open Hearings

Ahead of this year’s Security Council elections, the World Federation of United Nations Associations (WFUNA) organized open hearings with candidate countries. In two interactive sessions, Member States and civil society were invited to pose questions to candidates from the Asia-Pacific group (Thailand and Kazakhstan) and from the Western European and Others Group (Italy, Sweden, and the Netherlands). As they are running unopposed in their regions, candidates from the African (Ethiopia) and Latin American and Caribbean (Bolivia) groups chose not to participate.

For more information about each of the candidates, visit WFUNA's webpage on this year's Security Council elections.

On June 28, the General Assembly will elect five Member States to serve on the Council from 2017 to 2019. Unlike past years, the elections are being held six months in advance in order to allow the new members more time to prepare.

General Assembly to Hold Second Round of Hearings with New Candidates for Secretary-General

On 7 June, the General Assembly will hold a second round of “informal dialogues” with newly declared candidates to be the next UN Secretary-General. These sessions will replicate the General Assembly’s first-ever informal dialogues, held from 12 to 14 April, in order to allow newly nominated candidates the same opportunity to engage with Member States and representatives of civil society. Since the April hearings, two additional candidates have been nominated for the post: Ms. Susana Malcorra (Argentina) and Mr. Miroslav Lajčák(Slovakia). Both candidates are currently serving as Ministers of Foreign Affairs in their home countries.

To date, there is no official deadline for candidate nominations. However, the President of the General Assembly has urged any other potential candidates to come forward in time to participate in the 7 June hearings.

Ad Hoc Working Group on the Revitalization of the General Assembly Begins Negotiations

In late May, the co-chairs of the Ad Hoc Working Group on the Revitalization of the General Assembly circulated a zero draft resolution to all Member States. Negotiations on the draft will begin in early June.

Drawing from a series of thematic debates in the General Assembly, the resolution addresses four issues: the role of the General Assembly, the Assembly’s working methods, the selection of the Secretary-General, and the Office of the President of the GA. In light of the corruption allegations against former President John Ashe, the zero draft features several new proposals to strengthen the Office of the PGA. These include establishing an oath of office and code of ethics for the PGA, standardizing the Office’s record-keeping, and requiring financial disclosures at the beginning and end of the PGA’s term. The draft also congratulates the current President of the General Assembly on his implementation of the new procedures for the appointment of the Secretary-General.

Article in Foreign Policy sparks conversation, disagreement about Helen Clark's actions at UNDP

A May 24th article by Colum Lynch has raised some questions about Secretary-General candidate Helen Clark (New Zealand), and her actions at UNDP with regard to a particular staff member, Lena Sinha. According to the article, there were allegations that Ms. Clark took retaliatory measures against Ms. Sinha for her role in producing the Petrie Report, a report that criticized UNDP’s actions in Sri Lanka, alleging that senior officials in the country and at Headquarters in New York “routinely downplayed the extent of the Sri Lankan government’s complicity in killing the vast majority of the more than 70,000 civilians who died in indiscriminate shelling.” At the time UNDP refuted the contents of the report, and Ms. Sinha was unable to find another position within the Organization, which she and others have attributed to retaliation from Ms. Clark and UNDP senior management.

Lynch’s article prompted a response from UNDP, through a statement published on the UNDP website calling the allegations of retaliation "totally fabricated."

Amid criticism, UN NGO Committee denies journalist protection organization consultative status for 7th time.

On 23 May, the UN Committee on Non-Governmental Organizations voted to defer the application of the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) for ECOSOC accreditation. The vote was 10 against, 6 in favor and 3 abstentions. Among the ‘nay’ votes were Russia, China, Azerbaijan, Pakistan, Sudan, and South Africa.

There was much criticism around the vote from the US and EU countries, as well as many NGOs, about the Committee more broadly, accusing some of the Committee’s members of deferring applications for political reasons. The UN Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and association also criticized the Committee's practice.

Many NGOs active around UN Headquarters would say that this decision is on par with a larger trend of increased restriction of civil society access to the UN - including UN security personnel arbitrarily denying accredited NGOs access to open meetings, and increased security obstacles for NGOs in multiple UN buildings.

New President of the General Assembly to be Elected in June

In June, the General Assembly will elect its President for the 71st session. Under the Office’s regional rotation scheme, the next President will hail from the Asia-Pacific group. In a rare contested election, Member States will decide between Ambassador Andreas Mavroyiannis (Cyprus) and Ambassador Peter Thomson (Fiji).

Mr. Thomson has served as Fiji’s permanent representative to the United Nations since early 2010. More information about his credentials is available here. Mr. Mavroyiannis is currently the negotiator for the Greek-Cypriot side in the inter-communal talks on the Cyprus problem. Information about his previous experience is available here. To view his “Programme of Action” for the post, click here.


7 June: General Assembly informal dialogues with SG candidates
13 June: Election of the President of the General Assembly
14 June: Economic and Social Council Elections
28 June: Security Council Elections
12-13 July: High-level Thematic Debate on Human Rights
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