Filipino Senator Leila de Lima is seeking to become the new United Nations Secretary-General succeeding Ban Ki-moon whose term comes to an end at the end of the year.
De Lima’s candidature follows Ban Ki-moon’s plea for the next person to take his office after his departure to be a woman. This may be the first time a woman would be holding the leading role in the United Nations since its formation in 1945.
Ban said he feels that after eight men have led, “it’s high time now” for a female secretary-general, stating he strongly believes women should be given equal opportunities. He stressed that the decision was not up to him, but to the 15-member Security Council, which must recommend a candidate to the 193-member general assembly for its approval.
While Ban did not share his favorite candidate, he said that there are many distinguished, motivated women leaders who can really change this world, who can actively engage with the other leaders of the world.
There were 11 candidates in the running to become UN Secretary General — six men and five women.
Frontrunners such as former New Zealand Prime Minister and Head of the UN Development Program Helen Clark, Argentina’s Foreign Minister Susana Malcorra, and UNESCO’s Bulgarian director Irina Bokova, took a cautious approach. They are aware that even though the leadership contest has been by far the most open in the organization’s history, the major powers that are the permanent five council members will still be able to block a candidate likely to rock the boat and challenge their authority.
Leila de Lima is a Filipino lawyer and senator. She was appointed by President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo as Chairperson of the Philippine Commission on Human Rights in May 2008. She served the commission until June 30, 2010 after resigning from its chairmanship to accept her appointment by President Benigno S. Aquino III as the Philippines’ new Secretary of the Department of Justice.
She resigned from this office five years later, on October 12, 2015 to focus on her candidacy for a seat in the Senate of the Philippines in the 2016 Philippine general election. She eventually won one of the twelve contested seats to serve as a Philippine senator in the Philippines’ 17th Congress.