Women take on more leading roles in the UN

Insight

More females than ever before are taking on leadership roles in the United Nations. CCTV America’s Liling Tan reported this story from New York.

Women take on more leading roles in the UN

Women take on more leading roles in the UN

More females than ever before are taking on leadership roles in the United Nations. CCTV America's Liling Tan reported this story from New York.

Six women now occupy six seats at the U.N. Security Council, more than one-third of the United Nations’ most powerful arm. It’s also the most number of women representing their nations in the 15-member council’s history.

They are:

  1. Samantha Power, United States
  2. Dina Kawar, Jordan
  3. Joy Ogwu, Nigeria
  4. Maria Cristina Perceval, Argentina
  5. Sylvie Lucas, Luxembourg
  6. Raimonda Murmokaite, Lithuania

“They’re an example to what women can achieve in the field of diplomacy, in the field of security,” said Stephane Dujarric, spokesman for the U.N. Secretary General. “But obviously it would be great to go beyond six, and it would be great for us to not talk about it as a news story.”

Outside of the Security Council, U.N. women are also calling the shots in some of the world’s most serious conflicts and crises.

Margaret Chan is the director-general of the World Health Organization, which is leading the Ebola crisis response. Sigrid Kaag has taken lead in the joint mission to remove and destroy Syria’s chemical weapons stockpile. And Valerie Amos has the top U.N. job for humanitarian affairs and emergency relief.

“When you talk about women peace and security, you talk about sexual violence in conflict. Obviously you see that women may have a certain approach to that context that maybe men may not have it,” said Begona Lasagabaster, chief of leadership and governance for U.N. Women, an organization dedicated to gender equality and the empowerment of women. “There are certain problems, certain situations, that men do not have and women face and they can understand better. The good thing is that we have men and women at the table so we bring the whole approach of the whole society.”

The U.N. hopes to reach its goal of gender balance by 2017.

Within the U.N. system, the secretary-general has made it his priority to focus programs on women and gender issues, and to appoint more women as senior officials.

However, the U.N. is also made up of its member states, who are represented by their permanent representatives or ambassadors. Currently, only 31 countries out of 193 U.N. member nations have appointed women to these roles.

The U.N. acknowledges that much more needs to be done within the U.N. and among member states to better represent women.

“I think they have to face the same challenges that we do in terms of ensuring that their diplomatic corps is a place that is friendly for young women to start a career and to stay in that professional service in their career so they can end up as permanent representatives here, which, in most countries, is really the top job for an ambassador, for a diplomat,” said Dujarric.

The true test may come when the world’s top diplomat slot of U.N. Secretary-General is up for grabs in 2017. There’s already talk of a woman taking over for current Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon, which would make U.N. history.


Candidates line up for for new UN Secretary-General position

Ban Ki-moon’s tenure as U.N. secretary-general ends in 2016, but there are already a number of candidates hoping to get the position. CCTV America’s Nick Harper reported this story from New York.

Candidates line up for for new UN Secretary-General position

Candidates line up for for new UN Secretary-General position

Ban Ki-moon's tenure as U.N. secretary-general ends in 2016, but there are already a number of candidates hoping to get the position. CCTV America's Nick Harper reported this story from New York.

Most candidates for the U.N.’s top job have yet to announce their intentions to run. However, there’s controversy about how fair and open the selection process really is.

Legally, it’s the General Assembly who appoints the secretary-general, but the appointment is made on the recommendation of the 15-member Security Council which only ever suggests one name.

A candidate needs at least nine yes votes from the Council. If any one of the five permanent members votes no, the candidate is instantly rejected.

William Pace from the Institute for Global Policy has spent several decades campaigning for reform at the United Nations.

“The current process is one that is very closed, and has very serious lowest common denominator forces in the procedure that should be changed,” said Pace.

Pace wants a more formal selection process, with applications and interviews, and the decision-making opened up to more countries.

“The procedure now is one basically where you’re leaving it to the United States, Russia, China to try and come to an agreement on an individual that they could work with as Secretary-General, explained Pace. “It is a process will be very dangerous this time with the very bad relations between these principle veto members in the Security Council.”

There’s never been a secretary-general from Eastern Europe, and many feel it’s their turn. However, the current crisis in Ukraine may rule out that region.

While there’s no official list of candidates many are talking about potential female contenders including:

Australia’s former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd is also leading among male candidates.

The U.N. secretary-general is usually a lesser-known figure from a less-prominent country. In the past, they’ve come from places like Myanmar and Peru. More recently they include Boutros Boutros-Ghali from Egypt and Kofi Annan from Ghana.


Karen Mingst of Kentucky Univ. discusses possible candidates for next UN Sec-Gen

CCTV America interviewed Karen Mingst, a political science professor at the University of Kentucky and the co-author of “The United Nations in the 21st Century” about the selection process for the U.N.’s top job.

Karen Mingst of Kentucky Univ. discusses candidates for next UN Sec-Gen

Karen Mingst of Kentucky Univ. discusses candidates for next UN Sec-Gen

CCTV America interviewed Karen Mingst, a political science professor at the University of Kentucky and the co-author of "The United Nations in the 21st Century" about the selection process for the U.N.'s top job.