The UN Security Council has unanimously nominated former Portuguese Prime Minister Antonio Guterres to be the next secretary general.
The UN General Assembly is expected to meet next week to approve his appointment.
Mr Guterres, 67, who led the UN refugee agency for 10 years, will take over from Ban Ki-moon early next year.
Mr Ban, 72, described Mr Guterres as a superb choice to succeed him in the role.
“I know Guterres very well and consider it a super choice,” Mr Ban told reporters during a visit to Rome.
“His experience as Portuguese prime minister, his wide knowledge of world affairs, and his lively intellect will serve him well in leading the United Nations in a crucial period.”
Mr Guterres’ nomination was formally agreed by all 15 council members during a closed-door meeting at the UN on Thursday.
Announcing the impending nomination on Wednesday, Russia’s UN ambassador Vitaly Churkin said Mr Guterres had been the “clear favourite”.
There was some disappointment, however, among campaigners who had hoped for the first female UN secretary general, or a candidate from Eastern Europe.