Portugal’s former Prime Minister Antonio Guterres was on Thursday appointed as the next Secretary-General of the United Nations by the General Assembly.The 193 member states of the General Assembly adopted the resolution by acclamation, appointing 67-year-old Mr. Guterres as the ninth U.N. Secretary-General to take over from Ban Ki-moon, whose tenure will end on December 31, 2016.
The 15-nation U.N. Security Council had last week voted for Mr. Guterres by acclamation and forwarded his name to the General Assembly.Mr. Guterres, who was Prime Minister of Portugal from 1995 to 2002, and the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees from June 2005 to December 2015, will assume his new role on January 1, 2017 for a five-year term that can be renewed by member states for an additional five years.
Mr. Guterres had emerged as the frontrunner in all the six informal polls conducted in the Security Council to select the Secretary-General amid a heightened call by several U.N. member states and civil society organisations to elect a woman chief for the world body, which has had a man at its helm for all the 71 years of its existence.Mr. Ban, however, described his successor as “a superb choice” for the position of Secretary-General, noting that the two had worked closely during Mr. Guterres’ “long and outstanding tenure” as the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees.
“Secretary-General-elect Guterres is well known to all of us in the hall. But he is perhaps best known where it counts most: on the frontlines of armed conflict and humanitarian suffering,” Mr. Ban said referring to Mr. Guterres’ time as head of the U.N. refugee agency.He had last week said Mr. Guterres “showed deep compassion for the millions of people who have been forced from their homes. He worked around-the-clock to mount effective operations to come to their assistance”.
“His past experience as Prime Minister of Portugal, his wide knowledge of world affairs and his lively intellect will serve him well in leading the United Nations in a crucial period,” he had said.Speaking in Lisbon shortly after his selection last week, Mr. Guterres had expressed “gratitude and humility” and had vowed to “serve” those most vulnerable, including victims of conflict, terrorism, violation of rights and poverty.
Under procedures for appointing the world body’s new chief, after the recommendation is transmitted from the Council to the Assembly, a draft resolution is issued for the Assembly to take action.The last five Secretaries-General were appointed by the Assembly through a resolution adopted by consensus. A vote takes place only if a member state requests it and a simple majority of those voting would be required for the Assembly to adopt the resolution. If a vote is taken, it will be by secret ballot.
The U.N. Charter, signed in 1945 as the foundation of the organisation, says relatively little about how a Secretary- General is to be selected, aside from Article 97, which notes that the candidate “shall be appointed by the General Assembly upon the recommendation of the Security Council”.
In addition to Mr. Guterres, 12 other candidates were in the running for the position. Action in the Assembly will culminate an historic process: the selection of a new United Nations Secretary-General, traditionally decided behind closed-doors by a few powerful countries, had for the first time, involved public discussions with each candidate campaigning for the world’s top diplomatic post(THE HINDU,2016).