The 2016 election of a new UN Secretary-General

21-10-2016

On 13 October, the United Nations General Assembly appointed a European, António Guterres, to the post of UN Secretary-General, after a selection that was, in part, unprecedentedly transparent. For the first time in history, the nominated candidates had the opportunity to present their vision in public dialogues organised in the General Assembly with member states and civil society representatives. Guterres emerged somewhat unexpectedly as the chosen candidate – without much diplomatic wrangling in the Security Council, and defying expectations that the next secretary-general would be a woman and/or an eastern European, according to the principle of diversity which holds sway in the UN. Given his strong political and diplomatic experience and his commitment to the refugees cause (he served as head of the UN Refugee Agency), his election has raised expectations that he will improve the UN's functioning and address current global challenges, especially the Syrian crisis and the refugee crisis. In his vision statement, Guterres emphasised the importance of a 'diplomacy of peace' for his future mandate, focusing on the prevention of conflicts through political means. The commitment to human rights, sustainable development, women's empowerment and the value of diversity embodied in today's increasingly multi-ethnic, multi-cultural and multi-religious societies defines his approach to rising global challenges. He intends to make the UN more efficient and more decentralised.

On 13 October, the United Nations General Assembly appointed a European, António Guterres, to the post of UN Secretary-General, after a selection that was, in part, unprecedentedly transparent. For the first time in history, the nominated candidates had the opportunity to present their vision in public dialogues organised in the General Assembly with member states and civil society representatives. Guterres emerged somewhat unexpectedly as the chosen candidate – without much diplomatic wrangling in the Security Council, and defying expectations that the next secretary-general would be a woman and/or an eastern European, according to the principle of diversity which holds sway in the UN. Given his strong political and diplomatic experience and his commitment to the refugees cause (he served as head of the UN Refugee Agency), his election has raised expectations that he will improve the UN's functioning and address current global challenges, especially the Syrian crisis and the refugee crisis. In his vision statement, Guterres emphasised the importance of a 'diplomacy of peace' for his future mandate, focusing on the prevention of conflicts through political means. The commitment to human rights, sustainable development, women's empowerment and the value of diversity embodied in today's increasingly multi-ethnic, multi-cultural and multi-religious societies defines his approach to rising global challenges. He intends to make the UN more efficient and more decentralised.