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Antonio Guterres: 2nd Term UN Secretary General

  • 19 Jun 2021
  • 7 min read

Why in News

The United Nations General Assembly appointed Antonio Guterres as the ninth UN Secretary General (UNSG) for a second term beginning 1st January, 2022 and ending on 31st 2026.

  • India had expressed its support for the re-election of Guterres as UN Chief.

Key Points

  • About Antonio Guterres:
    • Guterres took oath of office on 1st January, 2017 and his first term ends on 31st December 2021.
    • Guterres served as the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees for a decade from June 2005 to December 2015.
    • He was the former Prime minister of Portugal.
  • Appointment:
    • Under the UN Charter, the Secretary-General is appointed by the General Assembly upon the recommendation of the Security Council.
    • Each Secretary-General has the option of a second term if they can garner enough support from Member states.
    • Guterres was elected after a reformed selection process that included a public informal dialogue session in the General Assembly, involving civil society representatives, aimed at ensuring transparency and inclusivity.
  • UN Charter:
    • The Charter of the United Nations is the founding document of the United Nations. It was signed on 26th June 1945, in San Francisco, at the conclusion of the United Nations Conference on International Organization, and came into force on 24th October 1945.
    • The UN can take action on a wide variety of issues due to its unique international character and the powers vested in its Charter, which is considered an international treaty.
    • As such, the UN Charter is an instrument of international law, and UN Member States are bound by it. The UN Charter codifies the major principles of international relations, from sovereign equality of States to the prohibition of the use of force in international relations.
  • About UNGA:
    • The General Assembly occupies a central position as the chief deliberative, policymaking and representative organ of the United Nations.
    • Composed of all 193 Members of the United Nations, it provides a unique forum for multilateral discussion of the full spectrum of international issues covered by the Charter.
    • It also plays a significant role in the process of standard-setting and the codification of international law.
  • UN Security Council:
    • Established by the UN charter in 1945, the Security Council has the primary responsibility of maintaining international peace and security.
    • The Security Council has 15 members.
      • There are five permanent members: the United States, the Russian Federation, France, China and the United Kingdom.
      • The non-permanent members of the Security Council are elected for a term of two years. Recently, India has been elected.
    • Each member of the Security Council has one vote. Decisions of the Security Council on matters are made by an affirmative vote of nine members including the concurring votes of the permanent members. A "No" vote from one of the five permanent members blocks the passage of the resolution.
    • Any member of the United Nations which is not a member of the Security Council may participate, without vote, in the discussion of any question brought before the Security Council whenever the latter considers that the interests of that member are specially affected.
  • Challenges Pertaining to UN:
    • UNGA has no control over veto power exercised by UNSC and it cannot take any decisive action against permanent members of UNSC.
    • The 15-member Security Council is by far the most powerful arm of the United Nations. However, the veto power is used by five permanent countries to serve the strategic interest of themselves and their allies.
    • The UN charter is vague in defining the duties of the secretary general, the United Nations’ top official.
    • Recently, the World Health Organization (WHO) has been criticised by the US on account of mishandling of the Covid-19 pandemic and subsequently suspended its financial contribution to WHO.
      • Also, WHO has been under pressure from the US government to adopt an approach that favours interests of US pharma companies.
      • WHO is a specialised agency of the UN.

United Nations

Way Forward

  • The UN must act as a catalyst and a platform for more inclusive, networked and effective forms of multilateralism.
  • The power to transform the current situation into a better world and future for all depends on everyone everywhere and can only be done successfully if the efforts towards a common agenda for the benefit of humanity and the planet is resolved.

Source: IE

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