Christiana Figueres departs UN secretary general race

Architect of 2015 Paris climate deal hoped record of multilateral success would deliver UNSG role, but has decided to withdraw from contest after taking soundings from allies


Christiana Figueres has left the contest to succeed Ban Ki-moon as the UN’s secretary general, she announced on Monday.

The former UN climate chief led 195 countries to agree an historic pact to tackle global warming in Paris last December, and hoped this success would convince governments to back her in the contest for the New York post.

But a fourth Security Council straw poll on 9 September saw Figueres finish close to bottom, receiving support from just five countries.

In a letter the Costa Rican said she was pulling out through “loyalty to the United Nations and in order to facilitate the advance of the selection process.”

Figueres added there was still a need for a “new era” of multilateralism to tackle a variety of interconnected issues such as conflict prevention, human rights, migration and climate change.

“Never before have we had so many issues compounding each other,” she said.

Portugal’s former prime minister António Guterres topped a 9 September poll with 10 of the Council’s 15 members voting in his favour, just ahead of Slovakia’s Miroslav Lajčák in second.

On Monday Germany accused Russia of “spreading rumours” Chancellor Angela Merkel had tried to get Moscow to replace the Bulgarian candidate for the post Irina Bokova with European Commission Vice President Kristalina Georgieva.

Bulgarian Deputy Prime Minister Rumiana Bachvarova is on record warning that Bokona’s candidacy was “not sufficiently convincing”.

Nine candidates remain in the running for the UN secretary general post, four of them women. An appointment is due by December.

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