BOXER, COLLEAGUES URGE PRESIDENT OBAMA TO PUSH FOR A QUALIFIED WOMAN TO SERVE AS NEXT UNITED NATIONS SECRETARY-GENERAL

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There has never been a female Secretary-General in the more than 70-year history of the UN

East County News Service

March 3, 2016 (Washington D.C.) -- U.S. Senators Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Patty Murray (D-WA), Mazie K. Hirono (D-HI), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Barbara A. Mikulski (D-MD) today sent a letter to President Obama in advance of the United Nation's upcoming election for Secretary-General, urging the United States to "reaffirm the UN's founding principle of equality by encouraging the strong consideration of candidates for the first female Secretary-General."

At the end of this year, the term of the current United Nations (UN) Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, will end. In the more than 70-year history of the UN, there has never been a female Secretary-General. 

"Numerous studies have shown that women's meaningful representation in decision-making around peace and security issues is key to the effectiveness and sustainability of these efforts," the Senators wrote in the letter. "Additionally, a female Secretary-General would bring a different perspective on the numerous challenges facing the UN and would help to ensure further dedicated attention to gender throughout the organization." 

The letter noted the lack of representation of women in top leadership positions at the UN, with men appointed to nearly 92 percent of high-level senior positions, according to recent reports. Despite Secretary-General Ban's previous efforts to promote women to senior leadership positions, many of these female leaders have since been replaced by men.

In 1997, the UN General Assembly adopted Resolution 51/241 which called for the consideration of regional rotation as a part of the election of Secretary-General as well as gender equality. While the UN has upheld the consideration of regional rotation, it has not given full consideration to gender equality. 

Under the terms of the UN Charter, all member states are allowed to nominate potential candidates to the Security Council. The recommendation of the Security Council requires at least nine votes in favor, out of the 15 members, and must include the support of all of the five permanent members.

The full text of the letter follows:

March 3, 2016 

The President

The White House

1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW

Washington, DC 20500 

Dear Mr. President: 

In advance of the United Nations' upcoming election for Secretary-General, we urge you to ensure that the United States takes a leadership role in pushing for the consideration of qualified female candidates for the position. 

Last year, we marked the 70th anniversary of the United Nations (UN) - a body founded on the principles of social progress, justice, and equality. As the tenure of Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon comes to a close, we believe it is important for the United States to reaffirm the UN's founding principle of equality by encouraging the strong consideration of candidates for the first female Secretary-General. 

From the refugee crisis worldwide, to the threat of global warming, to the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction - the world's increasingly complex problems demand multilateral solutions. The Secretary-General's role in resolving these crises is more critical than ever before, requiring fortitude, integrity, and proven leadership. In light of the scale and the scope of the challenges facing the world, we must do everything we can to ensure that the best candidates are considered for the position.

However, throughout the history of the UN there has never been a female Secretary-General. As Ambassador Matthew Rycroft, the United Kingdom's Permanent Representative to the UN has said, "other things being equal, it is high time for a woman to lead the United Nations." 

Numerous studies have shown that women's meaningful representation in decision-making around peace and security issues is key to the effectiveness and sustainability of these efforts. Additionally, a female Secretary-General would bring a different perspective on the numerous challenges facing the UN and would help to ensure further dedicated attention to gender throughout the organization. 

In 1997, the UN General Assembly adopted Resolution 51/241 which called for the consideration of regional rotation as a part of the election of Secretary-General as well as gender equality. While the UN has upheld the consideration of regional rotation, it has not given full consideration to gender equality. 

The lack of representation of women in the top leadership position of the UN is indicative of a larger, systematic issue within the UN system. According to recent reports, men were appointed to nearly 92 percent of recent high-level senior positions. Despite Secretary-General Ban's previous efforts to promote women to senior leadership positions within the UN, many of his efforts have slowly eroded as women have been repeatedly replaced by men in crucial senior positions.

We appreciated the letter sent by Ambassador Power and the President of the UN General Assembly launching the Secretary-General nomination process, which encouraged UN members to consider nominating qualified women in addition to qualified male candidates for the position of Secretary-General. This is an important first step.  

Since the conclusion of the Second World War, the United States has played a leading role in the struggle to build a more equitable, peaceful and secure world. We are grateful that your Administration committed the United States to advancing women's meaningful participation in peace and security efforts and hope you will continue to uphold these commitments through the Secretary-General selection process. It is incumbent on us to do our part, and so we ask that the United States play a leading role in pressing for the strong consideration of qualified women for the position of UN Secretary-General.    

Thank you for your leadership. We look forward to working with you on this important issue. 

Sincerely,                                  

Barbara Boxer                                                           

United States Senator 

Patty Murray

United States Senator                                                 

Mazie K. Hirono

United States Senator                                                 

Tammy Baldwin                                           

United States Senator                                   

Kirsten Gillibrand                                                     

United States Senator                                                 

Jeanne Shaheen

United States Senator

Barbara A. Mikulski

United States Senator