Look at women candidates for UN chief: assembly head

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  • Mogens Lykketoft
    Danish politician

United Nations (United States) (AFP) - The search for the next secretary-general of the United Nations should give special attention to women vying for the top job, the president of the UN General Assembly said Tuesday.

Danish diplomat Mogens Lykketoft told the Security Council he was confident that there were a number of female candidates "who come with all the credentials and more" to be the world's top diplomat.

The statement from the head of the 193-nation assembly came amid preparations to formally kick off the campaign for the top UN job through a new selection process aimed at opening up the race.

"Bearing in mind that in 70 years, the UN has never had a female secretary-general, the inclusion and consideration of woman candidates should be an important focus for all of us as we ensure that this organization continues to advance gender equality on all levels," Lykketoft said.

Ban Ki-moon, who has been secretary-general since 2007, is due to step down at the end of next year to make way for the world body's ninth leader as of January 1, 2017.

The General Assembly last month adopted a resolution that for the first time calls for candidates to come forward, present their resumes and lay out their vision for the job.

The measure sought to bring some transparency to a selection process that for decades has been the purview of the five permanent Security Council members: Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States.

Under UN rules, the Security Council nominates a candidate to the top job which is then endorsed by the General Assembly and regional rotation has been a consideration.

The next secretary-general is likely to come from Eastern Europe, the only region that has not had its turn at the top post.

Among the names being floated for the top job are two Bulgarians -- UNESCO chief Irina Bokova and EU budget commissioner Kristalina Georgieva -- along with Croatia's Foreign Minister Vesna Pesic.

In his address, Lykketoft said he would soon be sending a joint letter with the Security Council president to all member states inviting candidates.

The names of declared candidates and their resumes will be circulated to all member states, a procedure that breaks from decades of closed-door considerations to choose the secretary-general.

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