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New International Relations Committee to investigate priorities for the next UN Secretary General


The new House of Lords Committee on International Relations will next week open a short inquiry on the UK priorities for the new UN Secretary General.

The UN will this year elect a new Secretary-General who will formally take up their position in 2017. The House of Lords International Relations Committee, which was established in May for the first time will undertake an inquiry into the UK's priorities for the new Secretary-General.

On Wednesday 6 July, the Committee will hold its first ever public session by taking evidence on this issue from Paul Williams, Director of Multilateral Policy at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and Natalie Samarasinghe, Executive Director of the UK United Nations Association.


The session will start at 10:30am and be held in Committee Room 3 of the House of Lords.

Questions the Committee will cover with the witnesses include:

  • What should be the key UK priorities for the new Secretary-General?
  • What are the implications for the UK's exit from the EU for its influence and role at the UN?
  • In a time of constrained resources and multi-dimensional global challenges, where can the UN add value?
  • What is the role of the UN in managing the challenge of refugees and migration?
  •  How can the UN Secretary-General be insulated from the power politics of members?

Commenting ahead of the session Committee Chairman Lord Howell of Guildford, said:

"The new Committee will have a wide ranging remit to examine issues regarding international relations, development and defence. We will be starting a fuller inquiry into the implications of global trends in the Middle East for the UK's interests after the summer, but wanted to begin by looking at the priorities for the incoming UN Secretary-General.

"In light of the EU referendum result it is important for the UK to maintain a proactive role in the international organisations to which it belongs. The Secretary-General of the UN is one of the key roles in the international community and we want to understand and clarify what the UK's priorities for the incoming post holder should be.

"We will be taking evidence on this issue throughout July and into early autumn and will publish a report, including recommendations, in the autumn – in advance of the appointment of the new UN Secretary-General."

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