Remarks at Ministerial Side-Event “Selecting the next Secretary-General: Opening up the process”

29 September 2015

As delivered by Dr. Simon Adams, Executive Director of the Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect. United Nations Headquarters, New York.

I would like to thank the President of Costa Rica, the Foreign Minister of Estonia and the Permanent Representative of Finland, and The Elders for organizing this important event on the need to review and reform the process of selecting the next UN Secretary-General.

Ten years ago, former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan helped usher in the global commitment to the Responsibility to Protect populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity.

Then, as now, the Secretary-General plays a crucial role in upholding this responsibility. He or she has the authority under Article 99 of the UN Charter to bring situations involving the commission, or imminent risk, of mass atrocity crimes to the attention of the Security Council.

The Human Rights Up Front Action Plan also puts the Secretary-General on the frontlines of ensuring early and effective responses to situations where civilians face potential crimes against humanity and other grave violations.

These responsibilities are as important as they are immense. Success – or failure – defines the United Nations to those vulnerable millions around the world who look to it for protection or assistance. And let us not forget that there are currently 60 million people in the world displaced by war and atrocities; the most since 1945.

It is vital that the best candidate is chosen for the job of UN Secretary-General, that it is done in a way that enhances the credibility and transparency of the organization, and that whomever is elected, keeps the protection of human rights at the heart of the organization and its operations. That is why we support the 1 for 7 billion campaign.

We call on all permanent members of the UN Security Council to support this important initiative, and we thank the United Kingdom for their leadership in this regard.

Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect


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