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Photograph: EPA/LAURENT GILLIERON

Candidates for the post of the next UN secretary general have to go through a process of public scrutiny for the first time in the organization's history as part of a demand by member states to have a say in the decision.

The push for transparency comes after seven decades of the top position being decided among the five permanent members of the UN Security Council during secretive negotiations.

The new process is expected to include:

NOMINATIONS

Countries publicly nominate their candidates by notifying the president of the UN General Assembly and the president of the Security Council through an official letter. The nomination must also contain the candidate's resume and an explanation of why the country believes that the contender would make a good secretary general.

PUBLIC HEARINGS

UN member states get to ask question from candidates during two-hour informal hearings. Countries often ask questions on behalf of regional groups about issues that could be of interest to the wider membership. The candidates also address the media after their presentations.

STRAW POLLS

The Security Council is expected to hold a series of straw polls, where each of the 15 members of the council will be given straws of two different colours to either encourage or discourage each candidate. Eventually, permanent members of the council - Britain, China, France, Russia and the US - are given different coloured straws to differentiate their vote from non-permanent members. Their vote is seen as more weighty as are the ones holding the right of veto in the council. The polls are expected to begin in July.

UN SECURITY COUNCIL RECOMMENDATION

After the polls, the Security Council is expected to present one candidate to the General Assembly by the end of September.

UN GENERAL ASSEMBLY ELECTIONS

The General Assembly is expected to approve the Security Council's recommendation for the post of secretary general through acclamation in October. If the General Assembly is dissatisfied with the candidate put forward by the council, they can reject the recommendation and call on the council to recommend a new candidate, however, this has never happened in the UN's history.

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