Updated on 6 September 2015
Chapter 7: DECISIONS AND DOCUMENTS
Section 5: Decisions to recommend appointments of Secretaries-General
Support by the Russian Federation for an Eastern European Secretary-General
At a press conference on 2 September 2015 on the Russian Federation’s Council Presidency for that month, the Russian Permanent Representative was asked about his country’s position on the qualifications for the next Secretary-General, to be elected in 2016.
As described in a related article posted on this website, while a number of UN Member States and civil society representatives believe that the system of regional rotation should no longer apply to the office of the Secretary-General, the Eastern European group at the UN, and some others, hold that the next Secretary-General should come from Eastern Europe. At the same time, there had been speculation that the Russian Federation might veto candidates from Eastern Europe out of distrust for the position that they might take concerning Russian actions relating to the situation in Ukraine. Within the Council itself, a number of sharp exchanges had occurred over Ukraine between Russian representatives and the representatives of Lithuania, which has been seated on the Council in 2014 and 2015.
However, at his press conference, Vitaly I. Churkin spoke unequivocally in support of electing an Eastern European as the next Secretary-General. When asked whether his country supported having a woman as the next Secretary-General, Churkin answered, “It will be great to have a woman, I personally think, as the Secretary-General.” But he then stated that some members of the UN Eastern European group, to which the Russian Federation belongs, believe that “some of those people who vocally are advocating a female Secretary-General” are in fact not doing so because of a “gender interest”, but rather so as to “step out of the Eastern European group.” Queried as to his precise meaning, Churkin elaborated as follows:
“Some of those people who are very vocally advocating the need to have a female
Secretary-General, they are not really interested in women. Their main interest is not that,
but to say that ‘of course if we need to look for a good woman, we need to look globally, so
this claim by the Eastern European group that it should be their candidate, it’s not really an important claim – the important thing is to have a woman as the Secretary-General.’ So it’s,
as usual, it’s not just a kind of humanitarian issue – men and women – but also a lot of
political maneuvering is going on in order to achieve a certain goal in this election.”
Churkin then added that the Eastern European group had written a letter to the President of the General Assembly “saying that yes, the Eastern European group reiterates that we strongly believe that this is our turn. . . My colleagues in the Eastern European group, they are extremely, extremely strong on the right of the Eastern European group to provide their candidates for the Secretary-General.” He concluded his remarks on the matter by stating, “We do have very strong candidates.”