UNITED NATIONS (AP) — The U.N. General Assembly and Security Council are expected to take the first step toward electing the next head of the global organization this month.

Assembly President Volkan Bozkir said Friday that he and Tunisia’s U.N. Ambassador Tarek Ladeb, the current council president, hope to send a letter before Jan. 31 asking the U.N.’s 193 member nations to submit any candidates to challenge Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.

The former Portuguese prime minister and U.N. refugee chief, whose five-year term at the helm of the United Nations ends on Dec. 31, said in letters to Bozkir and Ladeb on Monday that he will seek a second term.

The General Assembly elects the secretary-general on the recommendation of the 15-member Security Council where the five permanent members have veto power, so their support is crucial. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson immediately announced his support for Guterres, but there has been no word yet from The United States, Russia, China and France.

A General Assembly resolution adopted in September 2015 asks the presidents of the assembly and Security Council to “start the process of soliciting candidates for the position of secretary-general through a joint letter addressed to all member states.”

Bozkir said he met Tuesday with Ladeb and shared a draft letter to member states which the Tunisian ambassador then circulated to council members. “We are hoping that we will be able to sign this letter together before the end of the month,” he said.


Bozkir told a news conference he will then ensure that any candidate appear before the General Assembly “to share their vision and explain what they’re going to do during the five-term in office and there will be a question and answer part.”

Legally, he said, there is no deadline for countries to submit candidates, but he expects “the first wave” — with one or more candidates — to appear before the General Assembly in April or the beginning of May.

Guterres was elected by the 193-member assembly to succeed Ban Ki-moon after a hotly contested and transparent race in October 2016 that initially included 13 candidates — seven women and six men. He took office on Jan. 1, 2017.