The United Nations Secretariat is headed by the Secretary General, assisted by a staff of international civil servants worldwide. It provides studies, information, and facilities needed by United Nations bodies for their meetings. It also carries out tasks as directed by the Security Council, the General Assembly, the Economic and Social Council, and other UN bodies. The Charter provides that the staff be chosen by application of the "highest standards of efficiency, competence, and integrity," with due regard for the importance of recruiting on a wide geographical basis.
The Charter provides that the staff shall not seek or receive instructions from any authority other than the UN. Each UN member is enjoined to respect the international character of the Secretariat and not seek to influence its staff. The Secretary General alone is responsible for staff selection.
The Secretary General's duties include helping resolve international disputes, administering peacekeeping operations, organizing international conferences, gathering information on the implementation of Security Council decisions, and consulting with member governments regarding various initiatives. Key Secretariat offices in this area include the Office of the Coordinator of Humanitarian Affairs and the Department of Peacekeeping Operations. The Secretary General may bring to the attention of the Security Council any matter that, in his or her opinion, may threaten international peace and security.