The UN Secretariat is headed by the secretary-general, assisted by the deputy secretary-general and a staff of international civil servants worldwide. It provides studies, information, and facilities needed by UN bodies for their meetings. It also carries out tasks as directed by the Security Council, the General Assembly, the Economic and Social Council, and other UN bodies.
The secretary-general acts as the de facto spokesperson and leader of the UN. The position is defined in the UN Charter as the organization’s “chief administrative officer”. Article 99 of the charter states that the secretary-general can bring to the Security Council’s attention “any matter which in his opinion may threaten the maintenance of international peace and security”, a phrase that Secretaries-General since Trygve Lie have interpreted as giving the position broad scope for action on the world stage. The office has evolved into a dual role of an administrator of the UN organization and a diplomat and mediator addressing disputes between member states and finding consensus to global issues.
The secretary-general is appointed by the General Assembly, after being recommended by the Security Council, where the permanent members have veto power. There are no specific criteria for the post, but over the years it has become accepted that the post shall be held for one or two terms of five years. The current Secretary-General is António Guterres, who replaced Ban Ki-moon in 2017.
Secretaries-General of the United Nations
|No.||Name||Country of origin||Took office||Left office||Notes|
|1||Trygve Lie||Norway||2 February 1946||10 November 1952||Resigned|
|2||Dag Hammarskjöld||Sweden||10 April 1953||18 September 1961||Died in office|
|3||U Thant||Burma||30 November 1961||31 December 1971||First non-European to hold office|
|4||Kurt Waldheim||Austria||1 January 1972||31 December 1981|
|5||Javier Pérez de Cuéllar||Peru||1 January 1982||31 December 1991|
|6||Boutros Boutros-Ghali||Egypt||1 January 1992||31 December 1996||Served for the shortest time|
|7||Kofi Annan||Ghana||1 January 1997||31 December 2006|
|8||Ban Ki-moon||South Korea||1 January 2007||31 December 2016|
|9||António Guterres||Portugal||1 January 2017||Incumbent|