Sunday, Aug 14, 2022

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres Poised To Serve A Second Term

The UN Security Council recommended Antonio Guterres’ name to the 193-member General Assembly following a closed meeting earlier today.

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres PTI File Photo

The UN Security Council on Tuesday unanimously passed a resolution recommending a second five-year term for UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres as chief of the world body. The elections for the post will be held on June 18 and Guterres’ second term will begin from January 1,2022.

The UN Security Council recommended his name to the 193-member General Assembly following a closed meeting earlier today.

Estonia’s Ambassador to the UN Sven Jurgenson, President of the Council for month of June, made the announcement on Tuesday.

"Even though we had only one official candidate, the process of the selection has not changed since last time. Now we pass on the torch to the UN General Assembly," he said.

The UN secretary general is appointed by the UN General Assembly based on the recommendation of the Security Council. Each Secretary-General has the option of a second term if they can garner enough support from Member States.

Guterres, the ninth Secretary-General of the United Nations, took oath of office on January 1, 2017 and his first term ends on December 31 this year. Former Prime Minister of Portugal, Guterres served as the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees from a decade from June 2005 to December 2015.

Responding to news of his reappointment, Guterres said he is honoured to be recommended for a second term as chief of the world organisation.

"The decision taken today by the Security Council to recommend to the General Assembly that I serve a second term as Secretary-General of the United Nations is a great honour. I am very grateful to the members of the Council for the trust they have placed in me," he said.

"It has been an immense privilege to be at the service of ‘we, the peoples’ and at the helm of the amazing women and men of this Organisation for the past four and a half years, when we have been facing so many complex challenges,” Guterres said, making a reference to the first three words of the UN Charter.

"Pursuing, as Secretary-General of the United Nations, the purposes and principles of the Charter is a most noble duty. I would be deeply humbled if the General Assembly were to entrust me with the responsibilities of a second mandate,” he said.

Jurgenson said the vote in the General Assembly to re-elect Guterres could take place on June 18.

"We have all seen actually the Secretary General in action. I think he has been an excellent Secretary General. He's a bridge builder, his views on the conflict zones in the world and he's able to speak to everybody. And I think this is something that is expected from the Secretary General and he has proven worthy of the post already with the five years that he has been in office."

India had expressed its support for re-election of Guterres as UN Chief and welcomed the adoption of the resolution recommending his name.

"India welcomes the adoption of @UN #SecurityCouncil resolution recommending a second term to #UnitedNations Secretary-General @antonioguterres," India’s Permanent Representative to the UN Ambassador T S Tirumurti tweeted.

Last month, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar had met Guterres at the United Nations headquarters and expressed New Delhi’s support to him for his second term as the world’s top diplomat.

"India values UNSG's leadership of the UN, especially in these challenging times. Conveyed our support for his candidature for a second term,” Jaishankar had said in a tweet after the meeting.

Later a press release issued by the Permanent Mission of the India to the UN also stated that Jaishankar “conveyed that India values Secretary General’s leadership of the United Nations, especially in these challenging times. He conveyed India’s support for his candidature for re-election for a second term.”

Guterres, nominated by the Government of Portugal, has been the only official candidate for the position of Secretary General and his re-election was a given. There has been no woman Secretary General in the UN’s 75-year history and Guterres’ re-election will mean that any possibility of having a female lead the world organisation can come only after 2026.

In response to a question on there being only one candidate for Secretary General and no woman being considered for the post, Jurgenson said while there were other "self-proclaimed" candidates who were not official candidates, according to the rules and procedures, only Member States can nominate candidates for the Secretary General.

Fortunately or unfortunately, "beauty is in the eyes of the looker, like they say," Jurgenson said, adding that he is "particularly glad" that the same transparent and democratic process is still applied for the election this time like last time. "And even though there was only one candidate, but the candidate presented his vision statement. We had hearings also at the General Assembly and the Security Council. So, this procedure is democratic."

A 34-year old Indian-origin employee at the United Nations Arora Akanksha had announced her candidacy for Secretary General, throwing her hat in the ring against Guterres, saying she refuses to be a by-stander and it is now time for a new UN.

In March, Guterres had circulated his vision statement and earlier in May, laid out his case for a second term to UN Member States during an informal interactive dialogue convened in the General Assembly Hall.

Guterres was elected after a reformed selection process that included a public informal dialogue session in the General Assembly, involving civil society representatives, aimed at ensuring transparency and inclusivity.

(With PTI inputs)