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      August 2006
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August 2006

Pressure Pays Off: Women Have Their Say on UN Reform

UNEP Puts Gender Equality Front and Center

Update: UNSG Selection

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Joan Ross Frankson

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Anique Halliday

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Pressure Pays Off: Women Have Their Say on UN Reform
By June Zeitlin

After months of pressure from women's rights groups, the Secretary General’s High Level Panel on Coherence allowed them to have their say in a consultation in Geneva, Switzerland.  On July 2, the Panel met with representatives of more than 50 international civil society groups, including WEDO, to address the cross-cutting themes of gender equality, human rights and sustainable development/ environment.  WEDO and other women’s rights advocates addressed the inadequacies of the current gender equality architecture and the need for a highly-positioned, well-resourced independent agency with a field staff.  Though it is difficult to gauge the Panel’s decision because of the closed nature of its process, it is likely that it will recommend changes to the gender equality architecture.  The question is how bold and transformative will these recommendations be?


UNEP Puts Gender Equality Front and Center
By Betsy Apple

In an exciting new initiative, WEDO has partnered with World Conservation Union (IUCN) to help the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) incorporate gender equality and a gender perspective into its programs, policies, and practices. The gender-mainstreaming project was launched on June 30 with a day-long workshop led by WEDO and IUCN at UNEP Headquarters in Nairobi, Kenya.  A series of gender workshops and training sessions will follow at the regional and global UNEP offices over the next six months.  The workshop resulted in a draft Gender Plan of Action that will guide UNEP's future gender mainstreaming efforts.


Update: UNSG Selection
By Anique Halliday

On June 24, the Security Council began the process for selecting a new UN Secretary-General (SG), holding a straw ballot to gauge the relative popularity of the four male candidates recommended by Member States: Ban Ki Moon (Republic of Korea), Shashi Tharoor (India), Surakiart Sathirathai (Thailand), Jayantha Dhanapala (Sri Lanka).  The straw ballot neither determines the outcome of the process nor does it limit the possiblity for additional candidates to be nominated.

Historically, the selection of the UNSG has occurred largely behind closed doors. Appointed by the General Assembly under the recommendation of the Security Council, the SG is subject to veto by the five permanent members. There is currently no concrete process, timeline or formal candidate criteria.  Generally, names are submitted to the Security Council, which then meets to discuss candidates.

According to the Latest Developments, the Security Council is proceeding cautiously, "leaving open the possibility of successive refinements of the process."  Additionally, the Security Council will make only limited information available and will likely continue to operate in a "very discreet and sensitive way."

NGOs and civil society organizations worldwide are calling for a more transparent, accountable and inclusive process for selecting a Secretary General, including: 

   1. Formal candidate qualifications;
   2. Official timetable and systematic reporting;
   3. Procedures for assessment of candidates;
   4. Gender and geographic diversity considerations.

Stay updated on the UNSG selection process by visiting,

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