Asked last week if she will run to become the United Nations’ next Secretary General, Prime Minister Mia Mottley of Barbados gave a thumbs up, smiled, and walked away. Unofficially, however, UN insiders say she’s a likely front-runner.
The 2026 selection process is still far off, but talk of who is best-positioned to win the powerful job has already begun.
Historically, there has been a geographical rotation for the position, so it seems likely the next UN leader will be from the Latin America and the Caribbean region – and many advocates say it is time for a female candidate, after 78 years of only male leaders.
In the hallways and backrooms of the United Nations headquarters in New York, Mottley is one of several names being floated as likely contenders. Two sources said former Colombian president Juan Manuel Santos – a Nobel peace Prize laureate – will launch a campaign soon, though a representative for Santos denies it.
Among others, Argentinian diplomat Rafael Grossi, director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, is also a recurring name in discussions of who might succeed current UN Secretary-General António Guterres, as are Alicia Bárcena, Mexico’s foreign affairs secretary; Rebeca Grynspan, a high-level UN official and former vice president of Costa Rica; and Maria Fernanda Espinosa Garcés, a former president of the UN General Assembly and former minister of Ecuador.
But it is the charismatic and outspoken Mottley whose name often generates the most excitement. Though Mottley has not yet said she will run, one UN diplomat said “I would jump up and down” with excitement if she did.
Ralph Gonsalves, prime minister of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, a neighboring island, said she would have his vote if she chose to campaign.
“I think she would make a great Secretary-General,” he said, “Whatever she does, I will support her.”