The United Nations Secretary General

The current Secretary General of the United Nations is Portuguese national António Guterres, who took on the role in October of 2016.

He was preceded by the popular Ban Ki Moon and Kofi Annan before that. The official role of the Secretary General is to serve as the head of the United Nations Secretariat, which is the administrative arm of the UN.

However, the Secretary General is also the face of the United Nations and will give speeches all over the world to promote the values and vision of the UN, especially in developing countries where the issues of stability and human rights are very much on the agenda.

The secretary general will also issue statements from time to time to outline any specific action that the United Nations might be taking in connection with particular issues such as military intervention, disaster aid or major disagreements within the council.

The Secretary General post is one which is held for five years, aimed at providing stability during the term of office to push through long-term strategy and goals. The length of the term can be changed at the discretion of the United Nations and when it has happened, the term of office was shortened to three years.

The Secretary General must be totally impartial and cannot be seen to favour any state. He or she must pledge allegiance only to the United Nations during the term of office and must work to ensure that the overall mission of the organisation is adhered to and implemented transparently and with accountability.

The election of the Secretary General used to be held openly, but since 1981, proceedings have been held behind closed doors. During the last election, the organisation sent out letters to member states to suggest candidates, but the election was ultimately held in private.