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WATCH: Livestream of UN Secretary-General Debate

From CUNY Television

From climate change to armed conflict, extremism to pandemics, many of the world’s defining problems transcend borders and require global solutions. The UN must step up to meet these challenges and it is crucial that the best possible person is appointed to head the organization.

For 70 years, the selection process for this important job has been woefully inadequate — held behind closed doors, subject to secret bargaining, with no formal list of candidates or exchanges with them, let alone opportunities for them to engage with their constituency: the world’s 7 billion people. The 1 for 7 Billion campaign was founded in 2013 to push for a fair, open and merit-based process.

Working with states and with its 200 million supporters worldwide, the campaign secured a General Assembly resolution transforming the process. Now, we have a broad timeline and criteria, as well as a public list of candidates — almost half of whom, to date, are women — who will have the chance to present their vision to all UN member states.

Today’s event augments this new process by giving candidates the opportunity to engage directly with the public, and each other, through debates structured around questions solicited from people around the world.

The moderators: 

  • Barbara Crossette, UN Correspondent, The Nations, former UN Bureau Chief, The New York Times
  • Thomas G. Weiss, Presidential Professor of Political Science, The Graduate Center

The candidates: 

Christiana Figueres, Former Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change:

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  • Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change 
  • Ms. Figueres devoted herself for six years to rebuilding the global climate change negotiating process, leading to the 2015 Paris Agreement 
  • Director of Renewable Energy in the Americas (REIA), part of the Organization of the American States (OAS), and in 1995 founded the non-profit Center for Sustainable Development of the Americas (which support sustainable development in Latin America and the Caribbean.)

Vuk Jeremic, Former President of the UN General Assembly and former Foreign Minister, Serbia:

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  • As the Foreign Minister (2007-2012), relationships between Serbia and the US and EU improved, Serbians no longer needed a visa to enter the EU, Serbia gained candidate status in 2012 by the EU
  • As the President of the UN General Assembly (2012-2013), Jeremic aided the Arms Trade Treaty to help manage the international trade of weapons in order to create greater peace and less suffering worldwide
  • He is the founder and President of the Center for International Relations and Sustainable Development (CIRSD) in Belgrade, Serbia that aims to change sustainable development and have productive interactions between States across the world for global issues

Danilo Turk, Chair of the Global Fairness Initiative, former President of Slovenia:

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  • President Slovenia 2007-12
  • Asst. Secretary General for Political Affairs 200-05, also served as the representative for Slovenia (8 years), Pres. of UNSC twice (1998 -99) 
  • Helped lay the groundwork for UN Council on HR, created Council on HR in Slovenia, has done extensive research/projects relating to intl. Human Rights
  • Chairman of Board of Directors of Global Fairness Initiative (NGO dedicated to social and economic development in developing countries)