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Employment.png UN/Secretary-General 
Emblem of the United Nations.svg
UNSG's roles are defined as "diplomat, advocate, civil servant and CEO"

Start26 June 1945
Leader ofUN
DeputyDeputy Secretary-General of the United Nations
The system for electing the Secretary-General ensures that the he will always be sympathetic towards the West.Boss of the UN/Deputy Secretary-General.

The Secretary-General of the United Nations (UNSG), is the head of the United Nations Secretariat, one of the principal organs of the United Nations. The UNSG also acts as the de facto spokesperson and leader of the United Nations. The UN Secretary-General has limited bargaining power, no standing military force or intelligence service, and he cannot set or enforce UN policy.[1]


The UN Secretary-General was envisioned by US President Franklin D. Roosevelt as a "World Moderator", but the vague definition provided by the UN Charter left much room for interpretation by those who would later inhabit the position. According to the UN website, his roles are further defined as "diplomat, advocate, civil servant and CEO".[2] Nevertheless, this more abstract description has not prevented the office holders from speaking out and playing important roles on global issues to various degrees. Article 97 under United Nations Charter, Chapter XV states that the Secretary-General shall be the "chief administrative officer" of the Organisation, but does not dictate his specific obligations.

Responsibilities of the Secretary-General are further outlined in Articles 98 through 100, which states that he shall act as the officer "in all meetings of the General Assembly, of the Security Council, of the Economic and Social Council and the Trusteeship Council, and shall perform other functions as are entrusted to him by these organs". He is responsible, according to Article 99, for making an annual report to the General Assembly as well as notifying the Security Council on matters which "in his opinion may threaten the maintenance of international peace and security". Other than these few guidelines, little else is dictated by the Charter. Interpretation of the Charter has varied between Secretaries-General, with some being much more active than others.

The UNSG is highly dependent upon the support of the member states of the UN. "The Secretary-General would fail if he did not take careful account of the concerns of Member States, but he must also uphold the values and moral authority of the United Nations, and speak and act for peace, even at the risk, from time to time, of challenging or disagreeing with those same Member States."

"The personal skills of the Secretary-General and his staff are crucial to their function. The central position of the UN headquarters in the international diplomatic network is also an important asset. The Secretary-General has the right to place any dispute on the provisional agenda of the Security Council. However, he works mostly behind the scenes if the members of the council are unwilling to discuss a dispute. Most of his time is spent on good offices missions and mediation, sometimes at the request of deliberative organs of the UN, but also frequently on his own initiative. His function may be frustrated, replaced or supplemented by mediation efforts by the major powers. UN peacekeeping missions are often closely linked to mediation (peacemaking). The recent improvement in relations between the permanent members of the Security Council has strengthened the role of the Secretary-General as the world's most reputable intermediary."


The official residence of the UN Secretary-General is a five-story townhouse in Sutton Place, Manhattan, in New York City, United States. The townhouse was built for the philanthropist Anne Morgan in 1921, and donated to the United Nations in 1972.[3]

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.[4] The United Nations Charter provides for the UN Secretary-General to be appointed by the United Nations General Assembly upon the recommendation of the UN Security Council. As a result, the selection is subject to the veto of any of the five permanent Members of the Security Council. While the appointment and approval process of the Secretary-General is outlined in the UN Charter, specific guidelines have emerged regarding the term limits and selection process. These include a limit to two five-year terms, regional (continental) rotation of the appointee’s national origin, and the appointee may not be a citizen of any of the Security Council’s five permanent members.

The United Nations Charter mentions the Secretary-General in Chapter XV, Articles 97 to 101. Article 97 gives the General Assembly the task of appointing the Secretary-General. However, the candidate must be proposed by the Security Council. This implies that any Permanent Member of the Security Council could wield its veto in opposition of the recommendation. Most Secretaries-General are compromise candidates from middle powers and have little prior fame. Despite the Charter giving the General Assembly provisions to influence the selection process, the chosen Secretaries-General reflect that the selection process remains in the control of the P5.

The Secretary-General is also the chief administrative officer of the United Nations. Article 98 further states that the Secretary-General is further tasked with supervising the operations of the Security Council, General Assembly (GA), and the Economic and Social Council and is to "perform other such functions as are entrusted to him by these organisations". In short, this gives him or her the further responsibility of presiding over the meetings of these organs of the UN. Also contained in Article 98 is the responsibility of the Secretary-General to compile annual reports concerning the UN’s progress, to be presented to the United Nations General Assembly.

The Secretary-General has the power to alert the General Assembly and the Security Council of any event he or she sees as a security issue for the international system (according to Article 99). The Secretary-General, along with the Secretariat, is given the prerogative to exhibit no allegiance to any state but to only the United Nations organisation: decisions must be made without regard to the state of origin.

In the early 1960s, Soviet premier Nikita Khrushchev 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 potentially be sympathetic towards the West. Khrushchev proposed to replace the Secretary-General with a three-person leading council (a "Troika"): one member from the West, one from the Eastern Bloc, and one from the Non-Aligned powers. This idea failed because the neutral powers failed to back the Soviet proposal.[5][6]


Office Holders on Wikispooks

António Guterres1 January 2017
Ban Ki-moon1 January 200731 December 2016
Kofi Annan1 January 199731 December 2006
Boutros Boutros-Ghali1 January 199231 December 1996
Javier Pérez de Cuéllar1 January 198231 December 1991
Kurt Waldheim1 January 197231 December 1981
U Thant30 November 196131 December 1971
Dag Hammarskjöld10 April 195318 September 1961
Trygve Lie2 February 194610 November 1952
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External links

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