Will the next UNSG be a woman?

All eight UN Secretary-Generals have been men, but two Norwegian women are potential candidates

Photo: Arbeiderpartiet / Flickr Gro Harlem Brundtland.

Photo: Arbeiderpartiet / Flickr
Gro Harlem Brundtland.

Ilan Kelman
The Foreigner

The Campaign to Elect a Woman UN Secretary-General lists specific criteria for the post. It advocates not just for a female UN Secretary-General, but also for the fact that so many women have the qualifications and skills for the position.

More than two dozen women are currently listed as able to lead the UN at the start of the next Secretary-General’s term in 2017. They include current or former Heads of State, Heads of Government, Heads of International Organizations, and Ministers.

Gro Harlem Brundtland is perhaps the leading Norwegian candidate. Her international reputation was forged from her successes in international development and sustainability. Erna Solberg, Norway’s current Prime Minister, is also listed.

Photo: Hans A. Rosbach / Wikimedia Erna Solberg.

Photo: Hans A. Rosbach / Wikimedia
Erna Solberg.

Yet with the traditional rotation of the UN Secretary-General by geographic region, it is now Eastern Europe’s turn. UNESCO’s leader Irina Bokova from Bulgaria has a solid chance.

Possible competition comes from Dalia Grybauskaite, Lithuania’s first female President, in that role since 2009. Vaira Vīķe-Freiberga, Latvia’s President from 1999-2007, and the only woman to hold that post to date, could also be considered.

Norway, though, furnished the first UN Secretary-General, Trygve Halvdan Lie, there from 1946-1952. Could Norway lead again with the first female Secretary-General?

This article was originally published on The Foreigner. To subscribe to The Foreigner, visit theforeigner.no.

It also appeared in the Aug. 21, 2015, issue of the Norwegian American Weekly.

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Ilan Kelman

Ilan Kelman is Professor of Disasters and Health at University College London, England, and Professor II at the University of Agder, Norway. His overall research interest is linking disasters and health, including the integration of climate change into disaster research and health research. Follow him at www.ilankelman.org and @ILANKELMAN on Twitter and Instagram.