Secretary General

How to Address a Secretary General

This formula works for any Secretary General of an international organization such as the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, Council of the European Union, North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, Organization of American States, Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and many others.

Example: Secretary General of the United Nations

—-Envelope, official:
—-—-His/Her Excellency
—-—-(Full Name)
—-—-Secretary General of the (Name of Organization)
—-—-(Address)

——–Which looks like (I’ll use an old example):
——–—-His Excellency
—-——–Kurt Waldheim
——–—-Secretary General of the United Nations
——–—-(Address)

——–Or (It’s a bit less formal to put it all on one line):
——–—-His Excellency Kurt Waldheim
——–—-Secretary General of the United Nations
——–—-(Address)

—-Letter salutation:
—-—-Your Excellency:
—-—-—-or
—-—-Dear Secretary General:

—-Conversation:
—-—-Your Excellency
—-—-—-or
—-—-Secretary General

– Robert Hickey

Robert Hickey author of "Honor & Respect"

How to Address the Secretary General in Conversation?

The Secretary General of the Organization of American States (OAS) is coming to the museum and I need to know the best way to address him when he gets here.

—-Should one say:
——–Mr. Secretary General
——–Secretary General
—-—-—-or
——–Your Excellency

I am grateful for your assistance.
—-—-—-—-– Jeanine, Curator

Dear Jeanine,
Using Mr./Madam (Office) is a form most often used in the USA. It’s not wrong to use it with international officials, but it’s more US-centric.

Use either of these:
——–Secretary General
—-—-—-or
——–Your Excellency

Not using the name – just the (office) or Your Excellency – is the most formal.  Using Secretary General (Surname) is correct, but less formal.

– Robert Hickey

Robert Hickey author of "Honor & Respect"

When Should You Use the Forms on this Page?

You can use these forms of address for any mode of communication: addressing a letter, invitation, card or Email. (If there are differences between the official and social forms of address, I will have mentioned the different forms.)  The form noted in the salutation is the same form you say when you say their name in conversation or when you greet them.

Not Finding Your Answer?

—-#1)  At right on desktops, at the bottom of every page on tablets and phones, is a list of all the offices, officials & topics covered on the site.

—-#2)  If you don’t see the official you seek included or your question answered send me an e-mail. I am pretty fast at sending a reply: usually the next day or so (unless I am traveling.)  Note: I don’t have mailing or Email addresses for any of the officials and I don’t keep track of offices that exist only in history books.

—-#3)  If I think your question is of interest to others, Sometimes I post the question  – but always change all the specifics.

— Robert Hickey 

Robert Hickey author of "Honor & Respect"