, Volume 93, Number 2

Thomas G. Weiss and Tatiana Carayannis
Member states, nudged along by the 1-for-7-billion civil society campaign, made the selection process somewhat open and transparent for the ninth UN secretarygeneral. The campaign overlooked an essential consideration: on 1 January 2017 a ‘honeymoon’ began. The position still may be what the first secretary-general Trygve Lie called ‘the most impossible job in the world’, but the post-Cold War era has provided secretaries-general with significant possibilities for institutional housecleaning. History provides lessons for 2016’s successful candidate. In looking to the next five years, it would be wise to examine how the last four UN secretaries-general pursued institutional change, and when they were effective in altering structures and staffing. The chances for conceiving significant change and starting the arduous path toward implementation are enhanced during the first months of a secretary-general’s mandate and again in the twilight when the preoccupations are legacy and the scramble to complete unfinished business. The election of António Guterres provides the occasion to rekindle optimism about the potential for multilateral cooperation. He appreciates the flaws in the structure and staffing of the dysfunctional UN family and hopefully will have the determination to undertake the Sisyphean task of reforming them.

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