Prince Zeid Al-Hussein, Jordan
If chosen to succeed Kofi Annan, the 42-year-old former UN peacekeeper and cousin of King Abdullah II would be the first Muslim to head the world body.
He was recently quoted by the Associated Press as saying that there was "considerable scope to be given by the Security Council and the General Assembly to a Muslim who was familiar with the UN but not of the UN".
There is an understanding that the next secretary general should come from Asia, as part of a tradition to rotate the job between regions.
Although technically Jordan is part of the Asian group at the UN, some countries might consider it more Middle East than Asia when it comes to choosing Mr Annan's successor.
Educated at Cambridge in the UK and in the US, Prince Zeid is an expert in the field of international justice.
He played a key role in setting up the International Criminal Court in The Hague, the world's first permanent war crimes tribunal.
He has also spent more than a decade focusing on peacekeeping issues at the UN. Between 1994 and 1996, he was political affairs officer at the peacekeeping mission in the former Yugoslavia.
In 1997, he was the first diplomat publicly to demand a UN report on the 1995 massacre of thousands of Muslim men and boys at Srebrenica. This eventually culminated in a report by Kofi Annan on the failures to protect civilians.
In mid-2004, he was named by Mr Annan to oversee an inquiry into allegations of abuse and sexual exploitation by UN peacekeepers in missions from Bosnia and Kosovo to Cambodia, East Timor, West Africa and Congo.
His report outlining a strategy to combat such abuse, was endorsed by world leaders at the 2005 UN Millennium Summit.
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