United Nations Secretary-General
Overview
 
The Secretary-General
Secretary-General
-International intergovernmental organizations:-International nongovernmental organizations:-Sports governing bodies:...

 of the United Nations
is the head of the Secretariat of the United Nations, one of the principal organs of the United Nations. The Secretary-General also acts as the de facto spokesperson and leader of the United Nations.

The current Secretary-General is Ban Ki-moon
Ban Ki-moon
Ban Ki-moon is the eighth and current Secretary-General of the United Nations, after succeeding Kofi Annan in 2007. Before going on to be Secretary-General, Ban was a career diplomat in South Korea's Ministry of Foreign Affairs and in the United Nations. He entered diplomatic service the year he...

 of South Korea
South Korea
The Republic of Korea , , is a sovereign state in East Asia, located on the southern portion of the Korean Peninsula. It is neighbored by the People's Republic of China to the west, Japan to the east, North Korea to the north, and the East China Sea and Republic of China to the south...

, who took office on 1 January 2007. His first term will expire on 31 December 2011. He was re-elected, unopposed, to a second term on 21 June 2011.
The Secretary-General was envisioned by US President Franklin D. Roosevelt
Franklin D. Roosevelt
Franklin Delano Roosevelt , also known by his initials, FDR, was the 32nd President of the United States and a central figure in world events during the mid-20th century, leading the United States during a time of worldwide economic crisis and world war...

  as a "world moderator," but the office was defined in the UN Charter as the organization's "chief administrative officer" (Article 97).
Encyclopedia
The Secretary-General
Secretary-General
-International intergovernmental organizations:-International nongovernmental organizations:-Sports governing bodies:...

 of the United Nations
is the head of the Secretariat of the United Nations, one of the principal organs of the United Nations. The Secretary-General also acts as the de facto spokesperson and leader of the United Nations.

The current Secretary-General is Ban Ki-moon
Ban Ki-moon
Ban Ki-moon is the eighth and current Secretary-General of the United Nations, after succeeding Kofi Annan in 2007. Before going on to be Secretary-General, Ban was a career diplomat in South Korea's Ministry of Foreign Affairs and in the United Nations. He entered diplomatic service the year he...

 of South Korea
South Korea
The Republic of Korea , , is a sovereign state in East Asia, located on the southern portion of the Korean Peninsula. It is neighbored by the People's Republic of China to the west, Japan to the east, North Korea to the north, and the East China Sea and Republic of China to the south...

, who took office on 1 January 2007. His first term will expire on 31 December 2011. He was re-elected, unopposed, to a second term on 21 June 2011.

Role

The Secretary-General was envisioned by US President Franklin D. Roosevelt
Franklin D. Roosevelt
Franklin Delano Roosevelt , also known by his initials, FDR, was the 32nd President of the United States and a central figure in world events during the mid-20th century, leading the United States during a time of worldwide economic crisis and world war...

  as a "world moderator," but the office was defined in the UN Charter as the organization's "chief administrative officer" (Article 97). Nevertheless, this more restricted description has not prevented the office holders from speaking out and playing important roles on global issues, to various degrees.

The official residence of the Secretary-General is a five-story townhouse in the Sutton Place, Manhattan
Sutton Place, Manhattan
Sutton Place is the name given to one of the most affluent streets in the borough of Manhattan in New York City, New York, United States, situated on the border between the Midtown and Upper East Side neighborhoods...

, in New York City, USA. The townhouse was built for Anne Morgan in 1921, and donated to the United Nations in 1972.

Term and selection


Secretaries-General serve for five-year terms that can be renewed indefinitely, although none so far has held office for more than two terms. The United Nations Charter
United Nations Charter
The Charter of the United Nations is the foundational treaty of the international organization called the United Nations. It was signed at the San Francisco War Memorial and Performing Arts Center in San Francisco, United States, on 26 June 1945, by 50 of the 51 original member countries...

 provides for the Secretary-General to be appointed by the General Assembly
United Nations General Assembly
For two articles dealing with membership in the General Assembly, see:* General Assembly members* General Assembly observersThe United Nations General Assembly is one of the five principal organs of the United Nations and the only one in which all member nations have equal representation...

 upon the recommendation of the Security Council
United Nations Security Council
The United Nations Security Council is one of the principal organs of the United Nations and is charged with the maintenance of international peace and security. Its powers, outlined in the United Nations Charter, include the establishment of peacekeeping operations, the establishment of...

. As a result, the selection is subject to the veto of any of the five permanent members of the Security Council.

The UN Charter's terse language has since been supplemented by other procedural rules and also accepted practices. In practice, the Secretary-General cannot be a national of any of the Permanent Members of the Security Council. An accepted practice of regional (continental) rotation has also been adopted in the selection of successive candidates. The ability of candidates to converse in both English and French is also considered an unofficial qualification for the office.

Most Secretaries-General are compromise-candidates from middle power
Middle power
Middle power is a term used in the field of international relations to describe states that are not superpowers or great powers, but still have large or moderate influence and international recognition. There is no single specific definition of which countries are middle powers.-Definition:There is...

s and with little prior fame. High-profile candidates are often touted for the job, but are almost always rejected as unpalatable to some. For instance, figures like Charles de Gaulle
Charles de Gaulle
Charles André Joseph Marie de Gaulle was a French general and statesman who led the Free French Forces during World War II. He later founded the French Fifth Republic in 1958 and served as its first President from 1959 to 1969....

, Dwight Eisenhower, and Sir Anthony Eden
Anthony Eden
Robert Anthony Eden, 1st Earl of Avon, KG, MC, PC was a British Conservative politician, who was Prime Minister from 1955 to 1957...

 were considered for the first Secretary-General position, but were rejected in favour of the uncontroversial Norwegian
Norway
Norway , officially the Kingdom of Norway, is a Nordic unitary constitutional monarchy whose territory comprises the western portion of the Scandinavian Peninsula, Jan Mayen, and the Arctic archipelago of Svalbard and Bouvet Island. Norway has a total area of and a population of about 4.9 million...

 Trygve Lie
Trygve Lie
Trygve Halvdan Lie was a Norwegian politician, labour leader, government official and author. He served as Norwegian Foreign minister during the critical years of the Norwegian government in exile in London from 1940 to 1945. From 1946 to 1952 he was the first Secretary-General of the United...

. Dag Hammarskjöld
Dag Hammarskjöld
Dag Hjalmar Agne Carl Hammarskjöld was a Swedish diplomat, economist, and author. An early Secretary-General of the United Nations, he served from April 1953 until his death in a plane crash in September 1961. He is the only person to have been awarded a posthumous Nobel Peace Prize. Hammarskjöld...

 remains the only Secretary-General to have died in office.

In the early 1960s, Soviet premier Nikita Khrushchev
Nikita Khrushchev
Nikita Sergeyevich Khrushchev led the Soviet Union during part of the Cold War. He served as First Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union from 1953 to 1964, and as Chairman of the Council of Ministers, or Premier, from 1958 to 1964...

 led an effort to abolish the Secretary-General position. The numerical superiority of the Western powers combined with the one state, one vote system meant that the Secretary-General would come from one of them, and would typically be sympathetic towards the West. Khrushchev advanced a proposal to replace the Secretary-General with a three-person leading council (a "troika
Troika (triumvirate)
Troika is a committee consisting of three members. The origin of "troika" comes from the term in Russian used to describe three-horse harnessed carriage, or more often, horse-drawn sledge.- Communist states :...

"): one member from the West, one from the Communist states
Eastern bloc
The term Eastern Bloc or Communist Bloc refers to the former communist states of Eastern and Central Europe, generally the Soviet Union and the countries of the Warsaw Pact...

, and one from the Non-Aligned
Non-Aligned Movement
The Non-Aligned Movement is a group of states considering themselves not aligned formally with or against any major power bloc. As of 2011, the movement had 120 members and 17 observer countries...

 powers. This idea failed because the neutral powers failed to back the Soviet proposal.

Secretaries-General

Note: Alger Hiss
Alger Hiss
Alger Hiss was an American lawyer, government official, author, and lecturer. He was involved in the establishment of the United Nations both as a U.S. State Department and U.N. official...

 was Secretary-General of the United Nations Conference on International Organization
United Nations Conference on International Organization
The United Nations Conference on International Organization was a convention of delegates from 50 Allied nations that took place from 25 April 1945 to 26 June 1945 in San Francisco, California. At this convention, the delegates reviewed and rewrote the Dumbarton Oaks agreements...

, held in April to June 1945.
#PortraitSecretary-GeneralDates in officeCountry of origin Reason of withdrawal Ref.
Gladwyn Jebb 24 October 1945 –
1 February 1946
 United Kingdom Served as Acting
Acting (law)
In law, when someone is said to be acting in a position it can mean one of three things.*The position has not yet been formally created.*The person is only occupying the position temporarily, to ensure continuity.*The person does not have a mandate....

 Secretary-General until Lie's election
After World War II, he served as Executive Secretary of the Preparatory Commission of the United Nations in August 1945, being appointed Acting United Nations Secretary-General from October 1945 to February 1946 until the appointment of the first Secretary-General Trygve Lie.
1 Trygve Lie
Trygve Lie
Trygve Halvdan Lie was a Norwegian politician, labour leader, government official and author. He served as Norwegian Foreign minister during the critical years of the Norwegian government in exile in London from 1940 to 1945. From 1946 to 1952 he was the first Secretary-General of the United...

1 February 1946 –
10 November 1952
 Norway Resigned
Lie, a foreign minister and former labour leader, was recommended by the Soviet Union to fill the post. After the UN involvement in the Korean War, the Soviet Union vetoed Lie's reappointment in 1951. The US circumvented the Soviet Union's veto and recommended reappointment directly to the General Assembly. Lie was reappointed by a vote of forty-six to five, with eight abstentions. The Soviet Union remained hostile to Lie, and he resigned in 1952.
2 Dag Hammarskjöld
Dag Hammarskjöld
Dag Hjalmar Agne Carl Hammarskjöld was a Swedish diplomat, economist, and author. An early Secretary-General of the United Nations, he served from April 1953 until his death in a plane crash in September 1961. He is the only person to have been awarded a posthumous Nobel Peace Prize. Hammarskjöld...

10 April 1953 –
18 September 1961
 Sweden Died in a plane crash in Northern Rhodesia
Northern Rhodesia
Northern Rhodesia was a territory in south central Africa, formed in 1911. It became independent in 1964 as Zambia.It was initially administered under charter by the British South Africa Company and formed by it in 1911 by amalgamating North-Western Rhodesia and North-Eastern Rhodesia...

 (now Zambia
Zambia
Zambia , officially the Republic of Zambia, is a landlocked country in Southern Africa. The neighbouring countries are the Democratic Republic of the Congo to the north, Tanzania to the north-east, Malawi to the east, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Botswana and Namibia to the south, and Angola to the west....

), while on a peacekeeping mission to the Congo
After a series of candidates were vetoed, Hammarskjöld emerged as an option that was acceptable to the Security Council. Hammarskjöld was re-elected unanimously to a second term in 1957. The Soviet Union was angered by Hammarskjöld's leadership of the UN during the Congo Crisis
Congo Crisis
The Congo Crisis was a period of turmoil in the First Republic of the Congo that began with national independence from Belgium and ended with the seizing of power by Joseph Mobutu...

, and suggested that the position of Secretary-General be replaced by a troika
Troika (triumvirate)
Troika is a committee consisting of three members. The origin of "troika" comes from the term in Russian used to describe three-horse harnessed carriage, or more often, horse-drawn sledge.- Communist states :...

, or three-man executive. Facing great opposition from the Western nations, the Soviet Union gave up on its suggestion. Hammarskjöld was killed in a plane crash in Northern Rhodesia
Northern Rhodesia
Northern Rhodesia was a territory in south central Africa, formed in 1911. It became independent in 1964 as Zambia.It was initially administered under charter by the British South Africa Company and formed by it in 1911 by amalgamating North-Western Rhodesia and North-Eastern Rhodesia...

 (now Zambia
Zambia
Zambia , officially the Republic of Zambia, is a landlocked country in Southern Africa. The neighbouring countries are the Democratic Republic of the Congo to the north, Tanzania to the north-east, Malawi to the east, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Botswana and Namibia to the south, and Angola to the west....

) in 1961. US President John F. Kennedy
John F. Kennedy
John Fitzgerald "Jack" Kennedy , often referred to by his initials JFK, was the 35th President of the United States, serving from 1961 until his assassination in 1963....

 called Hammarskjöld "the greatest statesman of our century."
3 U Thant
U Thant
U Thant was a Burmese diplomat and the third Secretary-General of the United Nations, from 1961 to 1971. He was chosen for the post when his predecessor, Dag Hammarskjöld, died in September 1961....


30 November 1961 –
31 December 1971
 Myanmar Declined to be considered for a third term.
In the process of replacing Hammarskjöld, the developing world insisted on a non-European and non-American. U Thant was nominated. However, due to opposition from the French (Thant had chaired a committee on Algerian independence) and the Arabs (Burma was supporting Israel), Thant was only appointed for the remainder of Hammarskjöld's term. Thant was the first Asian Secretary General. The following year, Thant was unanimously re-elected to a full five-year term. He was similarly re-elected in 1966. Thant did not seek a third term.
4 Kurt Waldheim
Kurt Waldheim
Kurt Josef Waldheim was an Austrian diplomat and politician. Waldheim was the fourth Secretary-General of the United Nations from 1972 to 1981, and the ninth President of Austria, from 1986 to 1992...

1 January 1972 –
31 December 1981
 Austria China vetoed his third term.
Waldheim launched a discreet but effective campaign to become the Secretary-General. Despite initial vetoes from China and the United Kingdom, in the third round Waldheim was selected to become the new Secretary-General. In 1976, China initially blocked Waldheim's re-election, but it relented on the second ballot. In 1981, Waldheim's re-election for a third term was blocked by China, which vetoed his selection through 15 rounds. In the mid 1980s, it was revealed that a post-World War II UN War Crimes Commission
United Nations War Crimes Commission
The United Nations War Crimes Commission was a commission of the United Nations that investigated allegations of war crimes committed by the Nazi Germany and its allies in World War II.The Commission began its work at the behest of the United States and the other Allied nations in 1943, prior to...

 had labeled Waldheim as a suspected war criminal – based on his involvement with the Nazi German army. The files had been stored in the UN archive.
5 Javier Pérez de Cuéllar
Javier Pérez de Cuéllar
Javier Pérez de Cuéllar y de la Guerra is a Peruvian diplomat who served as the fifth Secretary-General of the United Nations from January 1, 1982 to December 31, 1991. He studied in Colegio San Agustín of Lima, and then at Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú. In 1995, he ran unsuccessfully...

1 January 1982 –
31 December 1991
 Peru Refused to be considered for a third term.
Pérez de Cuéllar was selected after a five-week deadlock between the re-election of Waldheim and China's candidate, Salim Ahmed Salim
Salim Ahmed Salim
Salim Ahmed Salim a Tanzanian diplomat who has worked in the international diplomatic arena since the early 1960s. Salim is married to Amne and they have three children: Maryam, Ali and Ahmed....

 of Tanzania
Tanzania
The United Republic of Tanzania is a country in East Africa bordered by Kenya and Uganda to the north, Rwanda, Burundi, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo to the west, and Zambia, Malawi, and Mozambique to the south. The country's eastern borders lie on the Indian Ocean.Tanzania is a state...

. Pérez de Cuéllar, a Peru
Peru
Peru , officially the Republic of Peru , is a country in western South America. It is bordered on the north by Ecuador and Colombia, on the east by Brazil, on the southeast by Bolivia, on the south by Chile, and on the west by the Pacific Ocean....

vian diplomat, was a compromise candidate, and the first Secretary General from Latin America. He was re-elected unanimously in 1986.
6 Boutros Boutros-Ghali
Boutros Boutros-Ghali
Boutros Boutros-Ghali is an Egyptian politician and diplomat who was the sixth Secretary-General of the United Nations from January 1992 to December 1996...

1 January 1992 –
31 December 1996
 Egypt The United States vetoed his second term.
The 102 member Non-Aligned Movement
Non-Aligned Movement
The Non-Aligned Movement is a group of states considering themselves not aligned formally with or against any major power bloc. As of 2011, the movement had 120 members and 17 observer countries...

 insisted that the next Secretary-General come from Africa. With a majority in the General Assembly and the support of China, the Non-Aligned Movement had the votes necessary to block any unfavourable candidate. The Security Council conducted five anonymous straw poll
Straw poll
A straw poll or straw vote is a vote with nonbinding results. Straw polls provide dialogue among movements within large groups, reflecting trends like organization and motivation...

s – a first for the council. Boutros-Ghali emerged with 11 votes on the fifth round. In 1996 the US vetoed the re-appointment of Boutros-Ghali, claiming he had failed in implementing necessary reforms to the UN.
7 Kofi Annan
Kofi Annan
Kofi Atta Annan is a Ghanaian diplomat who served as the seventh Secretary-General of the UN from 1 January 1997 to 31 December 2006...

1 January 1997 –
31 December 2006
 Ghana Retired after two full terms
On 13 December 1996, the United Nations Security Council
United Nations Security Council
The United Nations Security Council is one of the principal organs of the United Nations and is charged with the maintenance of international peace and security. Its powers, outlined in the United Nations Charter, include the establishment of peacekeeping operations, the establishment of...

 recommended Annan. Confirmed four days later by the vote of the General Assembly
United Nations General Assembly
For two articles dealing with membership in the General Assembly, see:* General Assembly members* General Assembly observersThe United Nations General Assembly is one of the five principal organs of the United Nations and the only one in which all member nations have equal representation...

, he started his first term as Secretary-General on 1 January 1997.
8 Ban Ki-moon
Ban Ki-moon
Ban Ki-moon is the eighth and current Secretary-General of the United Nations, after succeeding Kofi Annan in 2007. Before going on to be Secretary-General, Ban was a career diplomat in South Korea's Ministry of Foreign Affairs and in the United Nations. He entered diplomatic service the year he...

1 January 2007–
present
 South Korea Incumbent
Ban became the second Asian to be selected as the Secretary-General. He was unanimously elected to a second term by the General Assembly on June 21, 2011. His second term begins January 1, 2012. Prior to his selection, he was the Foreign Minister of the Republic of Korea
South Korea
The Republic of Korea , , is a sovereign state in East Asia, located on the southern portion of the Korean Peninsula. It is neighbored by the People's Republic of China to the west, Japan to the east, North Korea to the north, and the East China Sea and Republic of China to the south...

 from January 2004 to November 2006.
UN Regional Group Secretaries-General Terms
Western European and Others 4 7
Eastern European Group 0 0
Latin American and Caribbean Group 1 2
Asian Group 2 4
African Group 2 3

See also

  • Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations
  • List of Secretaries-General of the United Nations by longevity
  • Global democracy
    Global democracy
    Global democracy may lie in the scope of:* Cosmopolitan democracy, a project of normative political theory which explores the application of norms and values of democracy at different levels, from global to local...

  • International Court of Justice
    International Court of Justice
    The International Court of Justice is the primary judicial organ of the United Nations. It is based in the Peace Palace in The Hague, Netherlands...

  • League of Nations
    League of Nations
    The League of Nations was an intergovernmental organization founded as a result of the Paris Peace Conference that ended the First World War. It was the first permanent international organization whose principal mission was to maintain world peace...

  • Mundialization
    Mundialization
    The word mundialisation, is the English version of the French word "mondialisation", which today refers in French to what is referred to in English as "globalisation"...

  • Presidential election
    Presidential election
    A presidential election is the election of any head of state whose official title is president.- United States :The United States has elections on the state and local levels...

  • Reform of the United Nations
    Reform of the United Nations
    Since the late 1990s there have been many calls for reform of the United Nations . However, there is little clarity or consensus about what reform might mean in practice. Both those who want the UN to play a greater role in world affairs and those who want its role confined to humanitarian work or...

  • United Nations Economic and Social Council
    United Nations Economic and Social Council
    The Economic and Social Council of the United Nations constitutes one of the six principal organs of the United Nations and it is responsible for the coordination of the economic, social and related work of 14 UN specialized agencies, its functional commissions and five regional commissions...

  • United Nations General Assembly
    United Nations General Assembly
    For two articles dealing with membership in the General Assembly, see:* General Assembly members* General Assembly observersThe United Nations General Assembly is one of the five principal organs of the United Nations and the only one in which all member nations have equal representation...

  • United Nations Secretariat
    United Nations Secretariat
    The United Nations Secretariat is one of the five principal organs of the United Nations and it is headed by the United Nations Secretary-General, assisted by a staff of international civil servants worldwide. It provides studies, information, and facilities needed by United Nations bodies for...

  • United Nations Security Council
    United Nations Security Council
    The United Nations Security Council is one of the principal organs of the United Nations and is charged with the maintenance of international peace and security. Its powers, outlined in the United Nations Charter, include the establishment of peacekeeping operations, the establishment of...

  • United Nations Trusteeship Council
    United Nations Trusteeship Council
    The United Nations Trusteeship Council, one of the principal organs of the United Nations, was established to help ensure that trust territories were administered in the best interests of their inhabitants and of international peace and security...

  • Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations
    Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations
    An Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations is a senior official within the United Nations System, normally appointed by the General Assembly on the recommendation of the Secretary-General for a renewable term of four years....

  • United Nations System
    United Nations System
    The United Nations system consists of the United Nations, its subsidiary organs , the specialized agencies, and affiliated organizations...

  • World government
    World government
    World government is the notion of a single common political authority for all of humanity. Its modern conception is rooted in European history, particularly in the philosophy of ancient Greece, in the political formation of the Roman Empire, and in the subsequent struggle between secular authority,...


External links

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