The United Nations Security Council has held its first secret ballot in a bid to whittle down the 12 candidates vying to be the next Secretary-General, but despite attempts to make the process more transparent the results will not be made public.
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon steps down at the end of 2016 after two five-year terms and former New Zealand prime minister Helen Clark is one of those vying for the role.
The 193-member UN General Assembly has this year sought to lift a veil of secrecy that has surrounded the election of the UN chief for the past 70 years by requiring public nominations and holding campaign-style town hall events with each candidate.
However it is the 15-member Security Council which will choose a candidate to recommend to the General Assembly for election later this year.
The council will continue to hold closed-door informal secret ballots until they reach consensus.
On Thursday, council members were given a ballot for each candidate with the options of encourage, discourage and no opinion.
The nominating states will be told of the results for their candidate, but overall results will not be made public.
The search for a successor to Ban, a former South Korean foreign minister, has sparked a push by more than a quarter of the 193 UN states for the world body's first female leader, and half of the current candidates are women.
The council hopes to agree on a candidate by October, diplomats say.