Each of Us Have a Role to Play in Creating a Sustainable and Healthy Future for the World’s Refugees

Guest post by Stanley M. Bergman, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Henry Schein, Inc. who spoke at the 19 September UN Summit for Refugees and Migrants. 

The United Nations General Assembly gathered last week to focus a bright light on the over 65 million people who are displaced worldwide. One message was clear: sympathy for the plight of refugees simply is not enough.

Every sector of society shares a responsibility to address the root causes of the crisis. One may ask why the private sector should devote so much time and resources to giving back to communities in need around the world. Simply put: we have a moral obligation to act, and it is in our enlightened self-interest to do so. Business cannot succeed in failed societies.

During times of displacement, emergency assistance to meet basic human needs is critical. While these needs are many, ensuring access to health care is of fundamental importance. Health is, in many ways, the overlooked building block critical to supporting other basic needs and rights enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

Further, health care for vulnerable populations must go beyond access to emergency services. Given that the journey for refugees and migrants often takes many years, and the fact that noncommunicable diseases have overtaken infectious diseases as the leading cause of death worldwide, access to primary health care must be addressed within the overall conversation. Access to health care must also include a special focus on the unique needs of women and girls, who are often the most at-risk. Lastly, it is critical to remember that our collective responsibility does not end when refugees arrive in their destination country.

Working toward creating a truly sustainable, secure, and healthy future for the world’s refugees cannot be the job of any one sector. International, multi-sectoral cooperation is the only effective solution. Although public-private partnership is certainly not a new concept, the world’s full embracing of the true value that the private sector can contribute is only just beginning to be realized.

There is a critical contribution for the private sector to make if given the opportunity to be a true partner of governments, international governmental organizations, NGOs and civil society. Harnessing the full power of this collaborative model means engaging the private sector beyond traditional charitable donations, to leverage the unique expertise and competencies businesses possess. At Henry Schein, we have seen first-hand the results that these types of innovative public private partnerships can yield and have demonstrated proof of this model through our work with the United Nations World Food Programme, WHO, World Bank and our valued supplier partners to develop the Global Supply Network for Pandemic Preparedness and Response. We have made a common commitment to help send a broader message that our collective impact is exponentially greater than any of us acting alone.

In the decade since Thomas Friedman said that the “world is flat,” ease of travel and telecommunications have enabled the highest degree of interconnectedness ever experienced by humankind. “Global” and “local” are more intertwined than ever, and the plight of refugees is the plight of us all. Each of us must have the courage to stand up and do our part. And we must do so in partnership with one another.


Stanley M. Bergman is Chairman and CEO of Henry Schein, Inc., a Fortune 500® company and the world’s largest provider of health care products and services to office-based dental, animal health and medical practitioners, with more than 19,000 team members and operations or affiliates in 33 countries. www.henryschein.com. Mr. Bergman addressed the United Nations General Assembly Summit for Refugees and Migrants plenary session on the vulnerabilities refugees face on their journey on 19n September, 2016.


Selecting the United Nations Secretary-General

2016 will see the selection of a new Secretary-General of the United Nations, as Ban Ki-moon’s second term ends on 31 December 2016. Even though there is no limit to the number of terms a Secretary-General may serve, none has held office for more than two terms.

But how does it all work? We explain the appointment process here:

1. How is the Secretary-General selected?

According to article 97 of the UN Charter, “The Secretary-General shall be appointed by the General Assembly upon the recommendation of the Security Council.”

This rather general description has been further specified by a range of General Assembly resolutions and the Security Council Rules of Procedure. So this is what happens:

  • Nominations

There is no detailed outline for the nomination process. All UN Member States are encouraged to engage and the President of the Security Council is supposed to consult with the General Assembly on a regular basis. Furthermore, the President of the General Assembly has the right to consult with Member States and recommend potential candidates to the Security Council. Nominations have traditionally been made mostly my Member States though there is no rule governing who can make a nomination.

As for the timeframe, the candidate should ideally be appointed one month prior to the end of the current term (General Assembly resolutions 51/241 from 1997 and A/Res/60/286).

  • Security Council

United Nations Security Council (file photo). UN Photo/Rick Bajornas

In the first stage of a two-step process, the Security Council adopts a resolution recommending a candidate to the General Assembly. Even though technically there is no limit to the number of recommendations, it has been practice to nominate one candidate only (in line with GA resolution 11 (I) of 1946). If more than one candidate is being considered, balloting will be conducted.

The negotiations take place in closed session, as outlined in Rule 48 of the Provisional Rules of Procedure of the Security Council.

The decision requires at least nine votes in favour, including those of the 5 Permanent Members. Therefore, China, France, Russia, the UK and the US have a de-facto veto power (confirmed by GA resolution 11 (I) of 1946).

  • General Assembly

United Nations General Assembly (file photo). UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe

In a second step, the General Assembly considers the candidate nominated by the Security Council and votes upon him or her. This deliberation also takes place in a closed session, as required by Rule 141 of the Rules of Procedure of the General Assembly. The nominee requires a simple majority to be selected.


2. Who were the previous Secretaries-General?

  • Trygve Lie (Norway), February 1946 to his resignation in November 1952
  • Dag Hammarskjöld (Sweden), April 1953 to his death in a plane crash in September 1961
  • U Thant (Burma/Myanmar), November 1961 to December 1971
  • Kurt Waldheim (Austria), January 1972 to December 1981
  • Javier Pérez de Cuéllar (Peru), January 1982 to December 1991
  • Boutros Boutros-Ghali (Egypt), January 1992 to December 1996
  • Kofi Annan (Ghana), January 1997 to December 2006


3. Who will be the next Secretary-General?

Obviously, nobody knows yet.

However, there are some indicators: General Assembly resolution 51/241 from 1997 stressed the importance of regional and gender balance. Since Eastern Europe is the only UN regional group that from which a Secretary-General has not been selected, resulting in speculation that a candidate from this region might have higher chances.

Furthermore, all eight Secretaries-General in the Organization’s 70-year history have been men, and many are calling for a female nominee, with several campaigns for a woman Secretary-General having formed around the 2016 election process.

4. Fun Fact

The Security Council uses color-coded straw ballots to vote on the candidates. This practice was established by the “Wisnumurti Guidelines“, proposed in 1996 by then UN Permanent Representative from Indonesia, H.E. Ambassador Nugroho Wisnumurti.


5. More Information

See the UN News Centre FAQ

News Centre: For first time in history, UN General Assembly presidents put forward proposal to open selection of next UN Secretary-General to include input from all Member States