Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon says he would personally like to see a woman become the next United Nations chief for the first time since the world body was established more than 70 years ago.

Ban said that after eight men at the helm of the world organization, "it's high time now."

But the U.N. chief, whose second five-year term ends on Dec. 31, stressed that the decision on his successor is up to the 15-member Security Council which must recommend a candidate to the 193-member General Assembly for its approval.

There are currently 11 candidates to succeed Ban — six men and five women.

He was asked about the possibility of a woman secretary-general at a Los Angeles event last Wednesday and elaborated on it in an Associated Press interview in Novato, California, the following day.