Kristalina Georgieva isn't running for UN secretary-general — yet

By Kelli Rogers 15 September 2016

European Commissioner for Budget and Human Resources Kristalina Georgieva with United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. Photo by: Eskinder Debebe / U.N.

Kristalina Georgieva hasn’t been nominated to join the race for U.N. secretary-general — but it’s too soon to count her out based on veiled statements from both her camp and a spokesperson for the Bulgarian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Reports from multiple outlets in the past week have pointed to the current European Commission vice president as an eleventh hour debut in the race to succeed U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. Media outlets in Georgieva’s native Bulgaria reported the government in Sofia would this week “switch” its nomination from UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova to Georgieva in a cabinet sitting on Tuesday.

Bulgarian Deputy Prime Minister Rumiana Bachvarova told press Monday that Bokova's candidacy was "not sufficiently convincing" and that there would be "news in coming days" on the subject. A spokesperson from Bulgaria’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Wednesday responded to Devex’s inquires by pointing to the country’s February 2016 nomination of Bokova and saying, “this has not changed.”

The spokesperson declined to comment further on “media hypotheses about possible nominations by other U.N. member states.”

Michael Jennings, Georgieva’s communication adviser, assured Devex “there has been no nomination of Kristalina Georgieva,” adding that her camp has “seen the rumors in the media.”

Neither Jennings nor the ministry spokesperson stated outright that Georgieva wouldn’t be nominated, which may lend credence to media reports that her bid would come by way of Hungary, Latvia and Croatia, making her a candidate of the European People’s Party.

Talal Al-Haj, U.N. bureau chief of television station Al-Arabiya, on Sunday announced via Twitter that “informed sources” told him the Bulgarian government will wait until after the Security Council’s Sept. 26 straw poll, an indicative measure of where candidates stand before the council, to decide whether to support Georgieva.

The secretary-general election campaign is entering its final weeks, with former Portuguese Prime Minister António Guterres, who recently concluded his term as U.N. high commissioner for refugees, leading the race. The chances of Bulgaria’s Bokova are growing slimmer; she came fifth at the fourth and most recent U.N. Security Council straw poll.

To be successful, any candidate must be endorsed by all five veto-wielding, permanent members of the U.N. Security Council — Russia, China, France, Britain and the United States.

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About the author

Kelli Rogers@kellierin

In her role as associate editor, Kelli Rogers helps to shape Devex content around leadership, professional growth and careers for professionals in international development, humanitarian aid and global health. As the manager of Doing Good, one of Devex's highest-circulation publications, she is constantly on the lookout for the latest staffing changes, hiring trends and tricks for recruiting skilled local and international staff for aid projects that make a difference. Kelli has studied or worked in Spain, Costa Rica and Kenya.

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