Habemus Praefectus: UN Security Council Elects New Secretary General

On Thursday, October 6, 2016, the UN Security Council took a formal vote to confirm its choice of nominee for the next Secretary General, unanimously nominating former Portuguese Prime Minister António Guterres. Security Council President Vitaly Churkin, Russia’s UN ambassador, said Guterres was approved by acclamation for a five-year term during a closed-door meeting.

Guterres first entered into politics in 1976 during Portugal’s first democratic election in decades. He quickly rose in the ranks, becoming leader of the Socialist Party in 1992, and was elected Prime Minister in 1995. On May 2005, Guterres was elected High Commissioner for Refugees by the UN General Assembly (GA), a position he held until 2015. His time as High Commissioner was marked by a fundamental organizational reform, cutting staff and administrative costs and expanding UNHCR’s emergency response capacity during the worst displacement crisis since WWII.

Article 97 of the UN Charter states that the Secretary-General is “appointed by the General Assembly upon the recommendation of the Security Council.” During the selection process, the President of the GA and of the Security Council invite candidates “with proven leadership and managerial abilities, extensive experience in international relations, and strong diplomatic, communication and multilingual skills,” complying with requirements that have been determined in GA Resolution 51/241 of 1997. Member States are invited to present candidates in a letter to the President of the GA and the President of the Security Council. After the Security Council confirmed their support for Guterres, there was some disappointment among campaigners who had hoped for a first female Secretary General, or—in the case of Russia and other Eastern European Member States—for a candidate from Eastern Europe to be nominated by the Security Council. Neither have occupied this position before. In fact, of the ten confirmed candidates this year, six were women:

  • Irina Bokova, Bulgarian politician and Director General of UNESCO;
  • Helen Clark, former Prime Minister of New Zealand (1999-2008) and current Head of the UN Development Program;
  • Natalia Gherman, Moldovan politician who was deputy Prime Minister and Minister of European Integration from 2013 to 2016;
  • Vesna Pusic, Leader of the Liberal Croatian People’s Party. Also served as a first deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign and European affairs until January this year;
  • Kristalina Georgieva, current European Commissioner for Budget and Human Resources; and
  • Susana Malcorra, current Argentinean Foreign Affairs Minister.

 

For more information:

BBC — http://www.bbc.com/news/world-37566898

AlJazeera — http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2016/10/security-council-backs-guterres-chief-161006203451644.html

1 For 7 Billion — http://www.1for7billion.org/candidates/ (global campaign)

The Telegraph — http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2016/10/05/antonio-guterres-to-be-new-secretary-general-of-the-united-natio/

The Guardian — https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/oct/05/antonio-guterres-next-un-secretary-general

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