On Monday 22 May the Blue Smoke campaign published Ringfencing and the General Assembly – a briefing exploring General Assembly action on the issue of monopolies on top UN roles. This publication was done in collaboration with Plataforma CIPÓ.
This timely report sets out how ringfencing – the continued practice of appointing individuals from specific states to specific roles – damages the UN’s credibility and effectiveness and is also a clear contravention of both the general provisions of the UN Charter and specific decisions of the General Assembly.
Since 1980 more than 15 UN resolutions have called for an end to ringfencing. The General Assembly has also stated that a national of a member state should not succeed a national of that same state. Despite this, ringfencing has blighted the UN system as successive Secretaries-General have ringfenced roles for the powerful — often for powerful men.
It’s one of the UN’s worst kept secrets that you must be from the US to get the job of running the prestigious Political and Peacebuilding Affairs office; that you need to be Chinese to lead the Department of Economic and Social Affairs, British to get the humanitarian affairs office, Russian to get the Office of Counter-Terrorism and French to get UN Peacekeeping.
Since 1980 more than 15 UN resolutions have called for an end to ringfencing.
This briefing chronicles the General Assembly’s action on ringfencing over the last four decades and offers a blueprint for member states who want to tackle this issue. It sets out recommendations for states to seize the opportunity presented by ongoing negotiations on the General Assembly’s Ad Hoc Working Group resolution currently underway. By building on previous language, the resolution should ask the Secretary-General to publicly explain any deviation from the General Assembly’s clear position that such appointments are impermissible.
Time is of the essence. The next time the General Assembly will pass a resolution on this issue will be late in the 79th session. This golden opportunity to end the ringfencing of certain top UN jobs to powerful states must be seized.