UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has said he will seek a second term

Secretary-General Antonio Guterres officially announced on Monday that he is seeking a second five-year term in the presidency United nations.

“It is an honor for me to continue serving the organization in pursuit of its goals and achieving its noble goals,” Guterres, whose current term ends on December 31, said in a letter to General Assembly President Volkan Bozkir.

The former Portuguese prime minister and United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees was elected by the 193-member assembly to succeed Ban Ki-moon after a heated and transparent competition in October 2016 that initially included 13 candidates – seven women and six men. Guterres took office on January 1, 2017.

“I am ready to serve for a second term as Secretary-General of the United Nations, if this is the will of the member states,” Guterres said in a letter to Bozkir obtained by the Associated Press.

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Several diplomats said Guterres had been awaiting the results of the US presidential election and would not have requested a second term if Donald Trump had won. But another diplomat familiar with his thinking said that Guterres, after more than 40 years of public service, would have felt unable to abandon the United Nations if Trump had defeated President-elect Joe Biden, who took office on Jan.20.

Trump withdrew the United States from the World Health Organization, the 2015 Paris climate agreement supported by the United Nations and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, and stopped funding the United Nations Population Fund and the United Nations Palestinian Refugee Agency. Biden said the United States will quickly join the World Health Organization and the climate agreement.

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UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said Guterres had been responding to a letter from Bozkir on Friday requesting his “intentions for a second mandate.”

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Dujarric said that the Secretary-General spent some time during the holidays talking to his family, and “I don’t think that any particular election cycle in any particular country affected his decision.”

Dujarric said that Guterres called Bozkir on Friday and then informed the five permanent members of the Security Council – the United States, Russia, China, Britain and France. Diplomats said China’s ambassador to the United Nations, Zhang Jun, hosted a lunch for ambassadors of the five countries, as they are called, with the secretary-general on Friday.

The General Assembly elects the Secretary-General on the recommendation of the 15-member Security Council. The five permanent members have veto power, so their support is crucial.

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Guterres, 71, received his first major vote late Monday.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s office said after a hypothetical meeting between the two leaders, “warmly welcomed the Secretary-General’s decision to run for a second term and congratulated him on a successful first term.”

The UN spokesman said Guterres also spoke to leaders of UN regional groups on Friday and sent a letter to the Security Council on Monday.

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As for the next steps, a resolution was passed by the General Assembly in September 2015 asking the Presidents of the General Assembly and the Security Council “to start the process of requesting candidates for the position of Secretary-General through a joint letter addressed to all Member States.”

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Association spokesman Brendan Varma said that President Bozkir spoke with Tunisia’s ambassador to the United Nations, Tariq Ladeb, president of the council this month, on Monday and will meet with him on Tuesday, among other things, to discuss “next steps in this process.”

Bozkir wrote to the ambassadors of the 193 UN member states Monday evening saying that he would “soon issue a joint letter” with the council president describing the selection process, and he is committed to ensuring that it remains “as comprehensive and transparent as possible.”

The 2015 resolution, which was adopted unanimously, made the previously largely secret choice of the Secretary-General more open and transparent. Member states of the world organization were allowed for the first time to see basic information about all candidates, including their CVs, to meet and question them in open sessions.

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Just before Christmas, a group of 25 countries from all regions called the Accountability and Transparency Group wrote to the General Assembly and the Security Council urging them that the selection process meet “as a minimum” the 2015 criteria for transparency and participation of United Nations members.

The election of Guterres was a disappointment for women, who had never held the highest office in the United Nations, as well as for Eastern Europeans who had never had a secretary general from the region. The next step in the informal geographic rotation of the UN Secretary-General was supposed to be when Guterres, who is from Western Europe, was elected.

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Since this will be the first time the incumbent has sought a second term after the decision has been adopted, and it is not yet known if there will be any other candidate, the next steps are unclear.

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In his response to Bozkir, Guterres said: “In line with the strong interest on the part of the General Assembly with regard to transparency and inclusiveness, I am ready to fully fulfill the expectations indicated in your letter, particularly regarding the presentation of the vision statement and to participate in an informal dialogue with Member States.” .

In his message, the Secretary-General said that he worked to reform the United Nations “to meet the aspirations of member states, and to strive for the dignity and well-being of people, while ensuring the sustainability of our planet for future generations.”

On the day of his election, Guterres pledged to be a “bridge builder” and promote “new diplomacy for peace”.

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But the past four years have seen the United Nations, the global bastion of multilateralism, as its leader tries to deal with an increasingly polarized world facing an epidemic, regional conflicts, a shrinking economy, increasing inequality and escalating tensions between the United States and China.

© 2021 The Canadian Press

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