At a glance: UN Secretary-General explained

At a glance: UN Secretary-General explained

There has been a lot of talk today on who will step up and take the role of the next United Nations Secretary-General, to follow in the footsteps of South Korea's Ban Ki-moon who retires in December. Our own New Zealander and former Prime Minister Helen Clark has put her hand up for the job. But what does the position demand, how do candidates get the job and who has held the role before?

The UN Secretary-General is the symbolic head of the UN. He or she serves as its top diplomat and its chief administrative officer. While official responsibilities are not set in stone, the UN says it is "equal parts diplomat and advocate, civil servant and CEO".

Another part of the job is preventing international disputes from arising, and the Secretary-General has the ability to define his or her own role while in office. This is a matter of precedent and convention rather than a written rule.

There is no set formal process but generally the Security Council recommends a single candidate for consideration to the General Assembly. The five permanent members of the General Assembly then decide if they will appoint the recommended candidate. The United States, Russia, the United Kingdom, China and France, hold enormous power in selecting the next Secretary-General; however, candidates from these nations are generally not considered to avoid further concentration of power within the United Nations.

At a glance: UN Secretary-General explained

Although there is no limit to number of five-year terms a Secretary-General may serve, none so far has held office for more than two terms.

While the Secretary-General position tends to rotate through regions, again, it is not a fixed rule. The Eastern European group is the only body yet to have a Secretary-General nominated. However, if no Eastern European candidate can be agreed upon by the Security Council, the Western European and Others groups, which includes New Zealand and Australia, would be next in line as they haven't had a Secretary-General nominated in more than 35 years.

1. Giving a diverse and equal approach, selectors likely choose candidates on a regional rotation. A Secretary-General has never hailed from Eastern Europe before.

2. Russia and the US are political rivals. The US is likely to back Ms Clark and this may give Russia reason to block her.

Newshub. / NZN