Who wants to be the next UN Secretary-General?

The race to be the next Secretary-General of the UN remains wide open as speculation mounts that the current front-runner for the job could be sidelined by a surprise last-minute entry to the contest.

Antonio Guterres, the former prime minister of Portugal and head of the UN refugee agency, has been the preferred candidate in every one of the four straw polls held since the contest began in April.

But, with the UN having stated that it is high time for a woman to lead the 70-year-old organisation, many expect Bulgarian diplomat Kristalina Georgieva to throw her hat in the ring.

And, with world leaders gathering in New York ahead of the annual general assembly, the talk of the town is who will be the next person given the weighty task of leading the UN into the future.

The race to find Ban Ki-moon’s successor is coming in to its closing stages, as, after 10 years at the helm, Mr Ban prepares to host his last ever general assembly.

Nine candidates remain in the race – three have dropped out – to take over from Mr Ban on January 1.

And for the first time ever, the race to succeed him is being played out, at least in theory, in the open.

The Secretary-General is chosen by the Security Council, but the candidates have been asked to make their pitch for the job. They set out their vision before the General Assembly, and answered questions from the representatives and those submitted via social media.

"Equal parts diplomat and advocate, civil servant and CEO, the Secretary-General is a symbol of United Nations ideals and a spokesperson for the interests of the world's peoples," the job description states.

Custom dictates that the appointment rotates by region - hence the significant number of Eastern Europeans vying for the role. The US and UK have also been loud in calling for a woman to take the reins of the UN for the first time.

Although there is technically no limit to number of five-year terms a Secretary-General may serve, none so far has held office for more than two terms.

Here is a look at the 12 candidates who wanted to be the world's top diplomat, in order of preference from the most recent straw poll.

There is another straw poll on September 26 and the Security Council will move to coloured ballot papers – showing whether a candidate is likely to be vetoed by one of the five permanent members - for the first time in early October.

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