The majority of USGs are appointed by the UN General Assembly on the recommendation of the Secretary-General for a fixed term of four years. Others (normally special envoys, Secretariat-appointees and non-programme management positions) are appointed directly by the UN Secretary-General on his own authority. However, all USGs report to the UN General Assembly through the UN Secretary-General. The only exception to this is the Under-Secretary-General for Internal Oversight Services who reports directly to the General Assembly.
The distinction in method of appointment is important as USGs appointed by the General Assembly have a mandate independent of the Secretary-General, and he is therefore unable to remove them from office without the General Assembly's consent. This restriction has been seen by many commentators to weaken the Secretary-General's ability to provide strong leadership and management within the United Nations System.
Some senior posts within the UN System have the equivalent rank of Under-Secretary-General but are either not entitled or choose not to use the formal title. The most prominent example of this is the Administrator of the United Nations Development Programme, who is... Read More