United Nations: The United Nations General Assembly unanimously elected Antonio Guterres re-elected as Secretary-General on Friday.
Guterres was given another five years at the helm of the 193-member organization at a time a deeply divided world faces numerous conflicts, the growing impact of climate change, and a pandemic still circling the globe.
Ambassadors in the assembly chamber burst into applause as Assembly President Volkan Bozkir announced Guterres’ re-election by “acclamation,” without a vote. Just before the announcement, Estonia’s UN Ambassador Sven Jurgenson, the current Security Council president, read a resolution adopted by the 15-member council recommending Guterres for a second term.
Under the UN Charter, the General Assembly appoints the secretary-general on the recommendation of the Security Council.
Guterres is the only candidate nominated by a member state of the United Nations. He used to be the prime minister of his home country, Portugal. The current President of the country, Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, watched this event activity.
Guterres was sworn in and delivered a speech immediately after being re-elected, urging UN member states to “do everything we can to overcome the current geostrategic differences and dysfunctional power relations.”
“There are too many asymmetries and paradoxes,” he said. “They need to address it head-on.”
Guterres expressed the hope that “the mistrust we are experiencing today, I hope it is an abnormality, but it cannot become the norm.”
He promised to “go all-out to ensure that trust between large and small countries flourishes, build bridges and relentlessly build trust”-and “seek to inspire hope. We can turn things around. It’s impossible.”
Traditionally, candidates for the highest positions in the UN are nominated by UN member states, but this is not a requirement of the UN Charter or the resolution passed by the General Assembly in 2015.
This measure makes the selection of the secretary-general, which was previously largely secret, more open and transparent. For the first time, member states can see the basic information of all candidates, including their resumes, and ask them questions in public meetings.
Guterres, a former UN refugee chief, was elected by the assembly to succeed Ban Ki-moon after a hotly contested and transparent race in October 2016 that initially included 13 candidates — seven women and six men. Guterres took office on Jan. 1, 2017.
This year, seven individuals submitted applications to be secretary-general without backing from any government, including most recently former Ecuadorian President Rosalia Arteaga.