Guterres articulated his vision as a candidate for UN Secretary-General

United Nations photo/Eskinder Debebe
UN Secretary-General António Guterres addressed the UN General Assembly to set out his vision for the next UN Secretary-General.

Current UN Secretary-General António Guterres today outlined to Member States his vision for a second five-year term. Guterres said he would act as an honest intermediary and bridge builder to approach the multiple challenges of today’s world with “humility” and focus on solutions.

Guterres served as Prime Minister of Portugal before being appointed UN Chief Executive in October 2016 and headed UNHCR for more than a decade. Currently, he is the only official candidate for the next UN Secretary-General, nominated by the Portuguese government.

Guterres circulated his vision statement for his second five-year term in March, and today’s informal interactive dialogue provided him with an opportunity to share a more personal vision of why he would like to be a candidate for secretary-general again.

Selection process

The informal dialogue was introduced by the United Nations General Assembly during the last selection process for the Secretary-General in order to establish new standards of transparency by allowing candidates to express their views and answer questions from a wide range of representatives of the global community, including civil society.

Following an informal dialogue with Member States, the Council will begin its selection process in June. If other candidates emerge, further dialogue may be held.

In accordance with the Charter of the United Nations, the Security Council proposes to the General Assembly the candidature of Secretary-General. Since 1996, Council members have been unanimous on this recommendation.

Subsequently, the General Assembly formally appointed the Secretary-General by a resolution. All along, the resolution was submitted by the President of the General Assembly and adopted by consensus.

Address the root cause

Guterres outlined his initial motivation for campaigning five years ago. He said he sought to “work to address the root causes of war, underdevelopment and violence” and create conditions that would enable “people to prosper.” Both are the right thing to do and the “wise thing to do”.

He noted that the failure of globalization, rising inequalities, and man-made destruction of nature and climate made him aware of the imperative of “renewing the social contract.”

“More and more people are living in their own echo chambers,” he said. They are lured by misinformation, populism, extremism, xenophobia and racism. ”

“We live in a post-Enlightenment era that nurtures irrational and even nihilistic belief systems, spreads fear, and denies science and truth,” Guterres said. ”

He stressed that a new type of geostrategic rupture or cold war must be avoided at all costs, and that the best antidote lies in “rekindling a shared commitment to fundamental values”.

A lot of diplomatic activities

Speaking to Member States from the rostrum of the UN General Assembly at UN Headquarters in New York, Guterres said the next Secretary-General needs to “maximize the unique convening power of the UN, redouble efforts to promote diplomacy of peace, foster trust, build confidence, identify common ground, mediate in good faith, and spare no effort to bring people together.” ” 

He expressed support for those who traditionally lacked a place in the world’s major diplomatic scenes. Civil society, cities, the private sector and young people are “important voices” and their views must be heard, he said.

He said injustice and suffering must be confronted, while taking into account the changing power dynamics in the allocation of resources and technology.

He also noted that in the pandemic, “when it comes to vaccines or support for communities and countries with poor or struggling health care,”
The pandemic has “loudly reminded” people of the limits of collective action and its potential.

Stands the test

Guterres expressed optimism, “At critical moments like this for our future, we must stand up and withstand the test.” I firmly believe that this momentum is unstoppable. ”

He expressed his willingness to serve another term as Secretary-General, who would “serve all Member States equally” and have no agenda other than the Charter.

“We are at a moment of vulnerability, and it is absolutely clear to me that today’s complex challenges can only inspire an attitude of humility — that the Secretary-General himself can neither give all the answers nor attempt to impose his own views,” he said The Secretary-General must act as a convener, mediator, bridge builder and honest intermediary to help find solutions that benefit everyone and overcome challenges and contractions. ”

Guterres said he will, as always, “feel the great responsibility on the shoulders of the Secretary-General every day” and place “human dignity and our and future generations’ harmony with nature at the heart of our common work and efforts.”

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