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UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe
António Guterres (right) takes the oath of office for his second five-year term as Secretary-General of the United Nations. The oath is administered by Volkan Bozkir, President of the seventy-fifth session of the United Nations General Assembly.
 

UN Correspondent Society & Diplomatic Review and  UNNGO PeaceeverTV Edit report from UN News: António Guterres was on Friday re-appointed to a second term as UN Secretary-General, pledging as his priority, to continue helping the world chart a course out of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Taking the oath of office in the General Assembly Hall, Mr. Guterres said he was aware of the immense responsibilities bestowed on him at this critical moment in history. 

 

World at a crossroads 

“We are truly at a crossroads, with consequential choices before us. Paradigms are shifting. Old orthodoxies are being flipped,” he told ambassadors. 

“We are writing our own history with the choices we make right now. It can go either way: breakdown and perpetual crisis or breakthrough and prospect of a greener, safer and better future for all. There are reasons to be hopeful.” 

Mr. Guterres was the sole candidate from the UN’s 193 Member States to vie for its top job.  His first five-year term began in January 2017.   

He was nominated by his homeland, Portugal, and appointed by acclamation by the General Assembly, following prior endorsement by the UN Security Council, for a second term that runs from January 2022 to December 2026. 

Turn the tide 

Speaking in a mix of English, French, and Spanish – three of the UN’s six official languages – Mr. Guterres detailed how COVID-19 has taken lives and livelihoods while exposing inequalities.  At the same time, countries are confronting challenges such as climate change and biodiversity loss.  

He stated it was crucial that the way out of the pandemic, as well as socio-economic recovery, should occur on a much more equitable basis, going forward. 

“Our greatest challenge - which is at the same time our greatest opportunity - is to use this crisis to turn the tide, pivot towards a world that learns lessons, promotes a just, green, and sustainable recovery, and shows the way via increased and effective international cooperation to address global issues”, he said in French. 

Momentum for transformation 

With the way forward filled with colossal tasks, the Secretary-General expressed confidence that they can be completed successfully, partly due to the incredible commitment of UN staff across the world, though underlining the need for continuous improvement, including through better data and analysis, and a reduction in “unnecessary bureaucracy”. 

Although the world has changed a lot, the UN’s promises remain constant, but countries have to work together in entirely new ways to keep them alive.  

He called for seizing momentum for transformation, while also stressing the need to bring other voices to the table, including civil society, the private sector, and youth. 

Vaccine equity now 

“Ultimately, this transformation has to do with solidarity and equality”, Mr Guterres said, this time speaking in Spanish. 

“But equity needs to start now: vaccines need to be available for everyone everywhere and we must create the conditions for sustainable and inclusive recovery both in the developed and developing world.  And there is still a long way to go.” 

Mr. Guterres warned that countries must overcome their current “trust deficit” if this is to be achieved. 

“In particular, we need to do everything we can to overcome current geostrategic divides and dysfunctional power relations. There are too many asymmetries and paradoxes. They need to be addressed head-on,” he advised. 

“We also need to be aware of how power plays out in today’s world when it comes to the distribution of resources and technology.” 

Fostering trust, inspiring hope 

Mr. Guterres vowed to use his second term to work towards ensuring “the blossoming of trust between and among nations” and to engage in confidence-building. 

He will also seek to inspire hope that things can be turned around, or that the impossible might be made possible.

“The attitude is never to give up,” he said.  “This is not idealistic or utopian but grounded in knowledge of history when big transformations occurred and guided by the fundamental belief in the inherent goodness of people.  That breakthroughs are possible when we expect it the least and against all odds. That is my unwavering commitment.” 

 

Ten days ago on June 8, The Security Council has formally selected the current Secretary-General António Guterres as its nominee to serve a second five-year term in the UN’s top job.

UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe
Sven Jürgenson, Permanent Representative of Estonia and President of the Security Council for the month of June, presides over a meeting on the recommendation for the appointment of the UN Secretary-General.
 
 
 

The recommendation, made in a resolution adopted by acclamation in a private meeting, now goes to the 193-member General Assembly for formal approval.

In a statement, Mr. Guterres said it was “a great honor” to be selected, and thanked ambassadors for serving on the Security Council for placing their trust in him. “My gratitude also extends to Portugal, for having nominated me again”, he added.

‘Immense privilege’

“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 organization for the past four and a half years when we have been facing so many complex challenges”, said the UN chief.

“I would be deeply humbled if the General Assembly were to entrust me with the responsibilities of a second mandate.” 

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 Organization

Under procedures for appointing the world body’s new chief, after the recommendation is transmitted from the Security Council to the General Assembly, a draft resolution is issued for the Assembly to take action. After appropriate consultations with the Member States, the Assembly President fixes a date for the draft to be taken up.

Vision statement

Mr. Guterres circulated his vision statement for a second five-year term in March, and in early May he took part in an informal interactive dialogue at UN Headquarters.

The UN Security Council meets to discuss its recommendation for the appointment of the United Nations Secretary-General.
The UN Security Council meets to discuss its recommendation for the appointment of the United Nations Secretary-General., by UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe

The informal dialogues were introduced during the last selection process in the UN General Assembly, with the idea of allowing candidates to present their views and take questions from a wide range of representatives of the global community, including civil society, establishing a new standard of transparency.

The last six proceedings for selecting the Secretaries-General were appointed by the Assembly through a resolution adopted by consensus.

A vote will take place only if a Member State requests it and a simple majority of those voting would be required for the Assembly to adopt the resolution. But the Assembly could decide that the decision requires a two-thirds majority. If a vote is taken, it will be by secret ballot.

Historic process

The UN Charter, signed in 1945 as the foundation of the Organization, says relatively little about how a Secretary-General is to be selected, aside from Article 97, which notes that the candidate “shall be appointed by the General Assembly upon the recommendation of the Security Council.” At its first session in 1946, the General Assembly was much more active in the selection process.

It created resolution A/RES/1/11 determining that the Council take the lead in the selection process, agree on a single name in a private meeting, and pass that name down to the General Assembly for a vote.