Christiana Figueres, the UN official who helped steer the Paris climate change accord to success in December, has entered the race to succeed Ban Ki-moon as the organisation’s next secretary-general.
Ms Figueres, daughter of a three-time Costa Rican president, joins a large field of contenders for a post tipped to go to a woman for the first time in the UN’s 71-year history.
A colourful diplomat known for speaking her mind, she vowed to deliver a new model of “collaborative diplomacy” and the organisational reform that has been a hallmark of her time running the UN’s climate change secretariat in Bonn over the past six years.
“There is a prevalent feeling that the UN has stagnated, operates excessively in silos and is not fit for purpose,” she said in a “vision statement” supporting her bid.
Eleven people have already thrown their hat into the ring, including Helen Clark, one of New Zealand’s longest serving prime ministers, and Irina Bokova, a Bulgarian who heads the UN agency Unesco.
By informal UN convention, it is eastern Europe’s turn for the world’s top diplomatic post, which Mr Ban, a former South Korean foreign minister, has held for nearly a decade.
The UN has embarked on an unusually transparent process for choosing his successor, inviting candidates to address the General Assembly to publicly explain their vision for the post.
The assembly will formally appoint the winner but only after a tick from the five permanent members of the Security Council: the US, China, France, Russia and the UK. A decision is expected by October.
If Ms Figueres were selected, she would be a striking departure from the eight men who have run the UN so far.