Who is The Next UN Secretary General?
For those who have been keeping up with recent developments in and of the UN, you will know that it has elected a new secretary general: António Guterres (for those who don’t, now you know). He is due to succeed Ban Ki-moon, who came to hold a speech earlier in the year at the LSE, at the end of this year. Some of you may ask what exactly the UN Secretary General is and does – well, as head of the United Nations Secretariat, he is essentially the spokesperson and leader of the United Nations. As such he is also chief administrative officer of the Security Council, the Economic and Social Council and the Trusteeship Council. If all of that means nothing to you, he basically is head on all of these important councils and has many other responsibilities across the UN. One of the other major tasks this role entails is the annual report to the General Assembly about the workings of the UN.
As representative of the UN, this role obviously needs to be filled with someone that has excellent diplomatic and personal skills, someone who is able to maintain support of the UN’s member states and liaise between them effectively. Furthermore, it is extremely important that this person maintains unbiased as to his (or her) state of origin. It is the General Assembly which has the great responsibility of appointing the Secretary General, and it does this upon recommendation of the Security Council. Usually terms are five years long and so far no person appointed has held the position for longer than two terms. Interesting about last year’s appointment have been the UN’s efforts to make the process more transparent – so they asked member states to nominate candidates.
Now as we are nearing the end of 2016, the ex-Prime Minister of Portugal, António Guterres is probably already preparing to take over from Ban Ki-moon. A humanist at heart, he decided as a student volunteer, that through politics he would be able to make a change and alleviate suffering. Even further, he believes that it is the centre of the UN system that is the best place to address this cause. At the time of his appointment, there was some disappointment as some were hoping for it to be a woman; however, António Guterres has vowed to appoint half of the senior positions to women, so there is hope for some more equality within the UN. His dedication to improving the conditions of people in crisis, manage climate change and conflict prevention and resolution are probably some of the reasons the General Assembly appointed him. With his diplomatic skills, we hope that he will be able to implement the policies and long-term goals.
If you are interested, here is a link to the visionary statement he held at the informal dialogue for the position earlier in April: http://webtv.un.org/…/antónio-guterres-portug…/4842691309001
Author: Nahid Ansari