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UNICEF chief Henrietta Fore resigns ‘with a heavy heart’

Ms. Fore said it had been “a difficult decision”, and in a message to staff, described holding the office of Executive Director as “a tremendous honour”.

“To serve the world’s children is both exhilarating and fascinating. You have achieved remarkable accomplishments at an extraordinary time, and we have so much more to do”, she told the UNICEF team.

She said she would continue in the top job until the end of the Executive Board cycle this year and the opening of the UN General Assembly in September, and will remain “until my successor has been chosen”.

She added that in the meantime, she would continue to lead on developing the agency’s Strategic Plan, and also focus on countries’ access to COVID-19 vaccines; to help the safe return to classrooms across the world; “and further accelerate our work in both humanitarian and development contexts”, to ensure a “bright future for every child.”

‘Sincere appreciation’  

In a statement issued via his Spokesperson, Secretary-General António Guterres said he full understood Ms. Fore’s decision, accepting her resignation with “deep regret.”

“The Secretary-General wishes to express his sincere appreciation to Ms. Fore for her inspiring leadership of UNICEF and for her service to improve the lives of children all around the world. In particular, he noted UNICEF’s critical role in the global response to COVID-19 and in reimagining education.”

The statement said that as a result of her leadership, UNICEF was now an organization “with a broader array of public and private sector partnerships and a bolder focus on achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.”

The UN chief thanked Ms. Fore for her “outstanding work to address the extraordinary challenges facing children and young people around the world.”

Leading public servant

She became the agency’s seventh director in January 2018, having worked in economic development, education, health, humanitarian and disaster relief as a public servant, for more than four decades.

She became the first woman to serve in the US Government as Administrator of the Agency for International Development (USAID), and Director of US Foreign Assistance, between 2007-2009. Before that, she also served as an Under Secretary of State, at the State Department.

UN General Assembly calls for US to end Cuba embargo for 29th consecutive year

In the meeting held in-person on Wednesday at UN headquarters in New York, three countries – Colombia, Ukraine, and Brazil – abstained.

With overwhelming backing from the international community, the resolution has been approved ever since 1992 when the General Assembly began to vote annually on the issue, with the sole exception of 2020, due to the restrictions imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

While the Assembly’s vote carries political weight in terms of international diplomacy, only the US Congress can lift the economic, commercial, and financial embargo in place for five decades.

‘Economic war’: Cuban Foreign Minister

 Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodríguez Parrilla, present during the vote in the General Assembly Hall, said that the blockade was a “massive, flagrant and unacceptable violation of the human rights of the Cuban people”.

He added that the embargo is about “an economic war of extraterritorial scope against a small country already affected in the recent period by the economic crisis derived from the pandemic”. Mr. Rodriguez estimated 2020 losses to be $9.1 million.

The diplomat said that the sanctions have made it harder for his country to acquire the medical equipment needed to develop COVID-19 vaccines as well as equipment for food production.

“Like the virus, the blockade asphyxiates and kills, it must stop”, he urged.

Everyday images of Havana. (file 2016)

UN News
Everyday images of Havana. (file 2016)

“Sanctions are tools for democracy”: United States

Meanwhile, Political Coordinator for the US Mission, Rodney Hunter, said during the vote that sanctions are “one set of tools in Washington’s broader effort toward Cuba to advance democracy, promote respect for human rights, and help the Cuban people exercise fundamental freedoms”.

He underscored that despite the blockade, the US recognizes “the challenges of the Cuban people” and therefore, the US was “a significant supplier of humanitarian goods to the Cuban people and one of Cuba’s principal trading partners”.

“Every year we authorize billions of dollars’ worth of exports to Cuba, including food and other agricultural commodities, medicines, medical devices, telecommunications equipment, other goods, and other items to support the Cuban people. Advancing democracy and human rights remain at the core of our policy efforts”, he said.

‘His words set a standard and will long endure’: UN mourns passing of Edward Mortimer

His time in office between 1998 and 2006, marked a crucial post-Cold War period for the UN, dominated by the Iraq War, and the fallout from the bombing of the UN Headquarters in the country’s capital, Baghdad, in 2003.

‘A gangle of limbs, a torrent of words’

Edward Mortimer, speechwriter, policy advisor and Director of Communications to former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan. Photo: Video screen capture
Edward Mortimer, Director of Communications to former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan.
Photo: Video screen capture

“I vividly recall Edward’s arrival — a jumble of gangly limbs, a tangle of unruly hair and, most of all, a torrent of words”, recalled Richard Amdur, now Director of Speechwriting at the UN. “He was part of a crew of lively minds surrounding the Secretary-General, given license to think and experiment at a time when, still in the early years of the post-Cold-War period, the future of the United Nations was being written anew and was still full of hope.”

“He was warm, funny, incisive and loyal.  He embraced the United Nations, jousted with the talking heads on television to defend us, and was utterly devoted to Kofi.  To have his voice now silenced is a terrible loss, but his words set a standard then and will long endure.”

At the daily briefing on Monday for UN correspondents in New York, Stéphane Dujarric, the UN Spokesperson, described Mr. Mortimer as a “trusted adviser of the Secretary-General and ardent defender of the United Nations who made an imprint on many of Mr. Annan’s signature achievements and initiatives.”

“As colleagues, we were fortunate to work alongside someone who had a brilliant mind, a way with words and a ready sense of humour, and who was always collegial and warm.”  

‘A privilege and honour’

Jaya Dayal, Chief of Staff to the head of the UN Department of Global Communications, worked closely with Mr. Mortimer as his Special Assistant between 2002 and 2006. She described the period as a “privilege”, adding that “Edward showed us how in our work, as well as in our daily lives, we can respect the dignity of each human being in a painfully imperfect world. Our work together was lightened by his great cheer and the generosity he showed to each of us, and that made us feel special in our mission.”

A former journalist for the Times, and Financial Times, newspapers, and an author of well-regarded books on Islam and the French Communist party, Mr. Mortimer, joined Mr. Annan’s senior staff mainly out of curiosity, as he explained in a 2014 interview with UN News.

Edward Mortimer, head speechwriter for UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, monitors a video recording by Mr. Annan.

UN Photo/Stephenie Hollyman
Edward Mortimer, head speechwriter for UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, monitors a video recording by Mr. Annan.

New vantage point

“I wanted to see what the world looked like from this particular vantage point. I was obviously very pleased to be offered the job, but I felt that they should take me as they find me. I said what I thought, particularly in internal meetings. And I think that, generally speaking, that was appreciated as being useful.”

Coming from a relatively academic background, and with a focus on print journalism, some doubted if Mr. Mortimer would be the right person to write for the voice of the former UN chief, but he quickly adapted: “I had to simplify my style and pare it down somewhat – long sentences with subordinate clauses don’t work well in speeches. I think one of [Kofi Annan’s] virtues, is that he likes to express things in a reasonably simple way. So, it was important to write short sentences and not too many long words.”

‘The world needs to find the best person to do that job’

In his 2014 interview with UN News, Mr. Mortimer was critical of the process by which the Secretary-General is selected, and called for a more transparent and inclusive method to be introduced.

“I think there’s something for everybody to do here to change this process and ensure that we really look for the best person – whatever their gender, whatever their nationality – who will do the best job for the world. This is a unique job and it’s an enormous responsibility. And the world needs to find the best person to do that job.”

“I think there’s a lot to be said for, instead of having a renewable five-year term, a non-renewable seven-year term so that the Secretary-General can then get on with the job without the constant suspicion that he’s currying favour with the great powers in order to try to ensure his re-election.”

After leaving the UN, Mr. Mortimer joined the Salzburg Global Seminar, an independent non-profit organization based in the Austrian city, as senior vice-president and chief programme officer. He was also the principal author for a Council of Europe report on the integration of immigrant communities into Europe and North America. 

He leaves behind his wife, Elizabeth, four children, and seven grandchildren.

UN News interview with Edward Mortimer (2 December 2014)

António Guterres secures second term as UN Secretary-General, calls for new era of ‘solidarity and equality’

Taking the oath of office in the General Assembly Hall, Mr. Guterres said he was aware of the immense responsibilities bestowed on him at this critical moment in history. 

World at a crossroads 

“We are truly at a crossroads, with consequential choices before us. Paradigms are shifting. Old orthodoxies are being flipped,” he told ambassadors. 

“We are writing our own history with the choices we make right now. It can go either way: breakdown and perpetual crisis or breakthrough and prospect of a greener, safer and better future for all. There are reasons to be hopeful.” 

Mr. Guterres was the sole candidate from the UN’s 193 Member States to vie for its top job.  His first five-year term began in January 2017.   

He was nominated by his homeland, Portugal, and appointed by acclamation by the General Assembly, following prior endorsement by the UN Security Council, for a second term that runs from January 2022 to December 2026. 

Turn the tide 

Speaking in a mix of English, French and Spanish – three of the UN’s six official languages – Mr. Guterres detailed how COVID-19 has taken lives and livelihoods, while exposing inequalities.  At the same time, countries are confronting challenges such as climate change and biodiversity loss.  

He stated it was crucial that the way out of the pandemic, as well as socio-economic recovery, should occur on a much more equitable basis, going forward. 

“Our greatest challenge – which is at the same time our greatest opportunity – is to use this crisis to turn the tide, pivot towards a world that learns lessons, promotes a just, green and sustainable recovery and shows the way via increased and effective international cooperation to address global issues”, he said in French. 

Momentum for transformation 

With the way forward filled with colossal tasks, the Secretary-General expressed confidence that they can be completed successfully, partly due to the incredible commitment of UN staff across the world, though underlining the need for continuous improvement, including through better data and analysis, and a reduction in “unnecessary bureaucracy”. 

Although the world has changed a lot, the UN’s promises remain constant, but countries have to work together in entirely new ways to keep them alive.  

He called for seizing momentum for transformation, while also stressing the need to bring other voices to the table, including civil society, the private sector and youth. 

Vaccine equity now 

“Ultimately, this transformation has to do with solidarity and equality”, Mr. Guterres said, this time speaking in Spanish. 

“But equity needs to start now: vaccines need to be available for everyone everywhere and we must create the conditions for sustainable and inclusive recovery both in the developed and developing world.  And there is still a long way to go.” 

Mr. Guterres warned that countries must overcome their current “trust deficit” if this is to be achieved. 

“In particular, we need to do everything we can to overcome current geostrategic divides and dysfunctional power relations. There are too many asymmetries and paradoxes. They need to be addressed head-on,” he advised. 

“We also need to be aware of how power plays out in today’s world when it comes to the distribution of resources and technology.” 

Fostering trust, inspiring hope 

Mr. Guterres vowed to use his second term to work towards ensuring “the blossoming of trust between and among nations” and to engage in confidence building. 

He will also seek to inspire hope that things can be turned around, or that the impossible might be made possible.

“The attitude is never to give up,” he said.  “This is not idealistic or utopian but grounded in knowledge of history when big transformations occurred and guided by the fundamental belief in the inherent goodness of people.  That breakthroughs are possible when we expect it the least and against all odds. That is my unwavering commitment.” 

UN elects five new members to serve on the Security Council 

According to the final tally, Ghana received 185 votes, Gabon 183, UAE 179, Albania 175 and Brazil 181 votes.  

The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) garnered three votes while Peru and Iran each collected one. 

Joining the others 

The Security Council is a body of 15 members, five of which are permanent and have veto power: the United States, United Kingdom,  France, Russia and China.  

The newly elected five will join India, Ireland, Kenya, Mexico and Norway, the other non-permanent members. 

Prior to its successful bid, the UAE issued a statement promising to be “a constructive partner” in addressing some of the “critical challenges of our time”, including promoting gender equality, countering terrorism and extremism and “harnessing the potential of innovation for peace”.  

UN Web TV
The UAE Ambassador walks to ballot box during the election of five non-permanent members to the Security Council on 11 June 2021.

Breaking it down 

Vacating their seats were Viet Nam, for the Group of Asia and the Pacific Small Island Developing States known as the Asia-Pacific Group; Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, for the Latin American and Caribbean Group, called GRULAC; Estonia, for the Eastern European Group; and Niger and Tunisia as part of the African Group. 

The candidates ran mostly unopposed within their regions, except for Gabon and Ghana, which were challenged by the DRC for the two available seats in the African Group.  

The five new members elected this year will begin their terms on 1 January 2022 and serve until 31 December 2023. 

While Albania is the only State that has never served previously, Brazil has sat on the Council ten times, Gabon and Ghana three times each and UAE once.  

Path to service 

Before applying, each country must obtain the votes of two-thirds of the Member States present and voting at the General Assembly, to secure a seat on the Council.  

Broken down, this translates to a minimum of 129 votes, to win a seat if all 193 UN Member States are present and voting. 

Even if candidates have been endorsed by their regional group and are running unopposed, formal balloting is required. 

Though unlikely, in the first round a Member State running unchallenged might not garner the requisite votes in the Assembly and face a new challenger in subsequent rounds.  

There have, historically, been several instances in which extended rounds of voting were required to fill a contested seat.  

Such situations have usually been resolved when one of the contenders withdraws, or a compromise candidate is elected.  

Exceptionally, countries competing for a seat have decided to split the term between them. But since 1966, this only happened once, in 2016, when Italy and the Netherlands agreed to split the 2017-2018 term. 

Since 2010, 78 per cent of races for Security Council seats have been uncontested.

António Guterres nominated by Security Council for second term as UN chief

The recommendation, made in a resolution adopted by acclamation in a private meeting, now goes to the 193-member General Assembly for formal approval.

In a statement, Mr. Guterres said it was “a great honour” to be selected, and thanked ambassadors serving on the Security Council for placing their trust in him. “My gratitude also extends to Portugal, for having nominated me again”, he added.

‘Immense privilege’

“It has been an immense privilege to be at the service of ‘we, the peoples’ and at the helm of the amazing women and men of this Organization for the past four and a half years, when we have been facing so many complex challenges”, said the UN chief.

“I would be deeply humbled if the General Assembly were to entrust me with the responsibilities of a second mandate.” 

It has been an immense privilege to be at the service of ‘we, the peoples’ and at the helm of the amazing women and men of this Organization

Under procedures for appointing the world body’s new chief, after the recommendation is transmitted from the Security Council to the General Assembly, a draft resolution is issued for the Assembly to take action. After appropriate consultations with Member States, the Assembly President fixes a date for the draft to be taken up.

Vision statement

Mr Guterres circulated his vision statement for a second five-year term in March, and in early May he took part in an informal interactive dialogue at UN Headquarters.

The UN Security Council meets to discuss its recommendation for the appointment of the United Nations Secretary-General., by UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe

The informal dialogues were introduced during the last selection process in the UN General Assembly, with the idea of allowing candidates to present their views and take questions from a wide range of representatives of the global community, including civil society, establishing a new standard of transparency.

The last six proceedings for selecting the Secretaries-General were appointed by the Assembly through a resolution adopted by consensus.

A vote will take 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. But the Assembly could decide that the decision requires a two-thirds majority. If a vote is taken, it will be by secret ballot.

Historic process

The UN Charter, signed in 1945 as the foundation of the Organization, 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.” At its first session in 1946, the General Assembly was much more active in the selection process.

It created resolution A/RES/1/11 determining that the Council take the lead in the selection process, agree on a single name in a private meeting, and pass that name down to the General Assembly for a vote.

Foreign Minister of Maldives elected next General Assembly President 

“Abdulla Shahid’s longstanding diplomatic experience, including in his current role as Minister of Foreign Affairs, has given him a deep understanding of the importance of multilateralism in addressing today’s global challenges”, said Secretary-General António Guterres. 

He commended the President-elect for his “selection of hope as the central theme in his vision statement” and noted that, coming from a small island developing State, Mr. Shahid will “bring unique insights” to the Assembly as the world prepares for the UN climate conference, COP26, in Glasgow in November. 

In what was a contested election, featuring former Afghan Foreign Minister Zalmai Rassoul, Mr. Shahid garnered 143 votes, to Mr. Rassoul’s 48. 

“I also want to express my deep appreciation to His Excellency Dr. Zalmai Rassoul and thank him for contributing to this dynamic process”, added the UN chief. 

During the meeting, the Secretary-General also drew the lots to determine the Member State that will occupy the first seat in the Assembly Hall in September, which went to Suriname. 

Saluting and selecting 

The top UN official also expressed his “deep appreciation” to Volkan Bozkir for his “exceptional leadership” as Assembly President during the 75th anniversary session. 

“As our most representative organ, the General Assembly is the foundation of all our work at the United Nations, and essential to our effectiveness as an Organization”, he said. “In 2021, the world needs that effectiveness more than ever”. 

On 6 May, Mr. Bozkir had convened informal interactive dialogues in the General Assembly Hall – as mandated in resolution 71/323 – in which the candidates responded to the questions submitted earlier by civil society and other representatives.  

“I wholeheartedly congratulate the Honourable Abdulla Shahid on his election as the next President of the UN General Assembly”, said the incumbent President, reminding that the President-elect has been “a strong voice” for the small island developing States. 

The outgoing President also recognized “the strong candidacy” of Mr. Zalmai Rassoul, saying that his “extensive experience in multilateral diplomacy” and “comprehensive vision” has “earned the respect of Member States”.  

“At this important time in his country’s history, the international community’s support for Afghanistan’s long journey towards democracy is as essential as ever”, said Mr. Bozkir, extending his best wishes to Mr. Rassoul’s continued success as Afghanistan’s Ambassador to the United Kingdom. 

UN Photo/Loey Felipe
Volkan Bozkir (centre), President of the 75th session of the UN General Assembly, greets Abdulla Shahid, Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Maldives and President-elect of the 76th session.

A world in mourning 

The UN chief said that millions of people are mourning the losses of loved ones to the COVID-19 pandemic in a crisis that has “dealt a body blow to communities, societies and economies”. 

“Until everyone, everywhere has access to vaccines, it continues to pose an enormous threat”, he stressed. 

The 76th Assembly will “grapple with the impact of the pandemic across the three pillars of our work: peace, sustainable development, and human rights”, said Mr. Guterres, wishing Mr. Shahid “every success in his task”. 

Staunch support 

The UN chief closed by offering the President-elect his “full support” and that of “the entire Secretariat” in reaching shared goals and upholding universal values. 

Meanwhile, messages of support and congratulations echoed across social media, including from the World Health Organization (WHO) chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, who said he looked forward to working with Mr. Shahid “to end the COVID19 pandemic and towards health for all”. 

Other elected officials 

The chairs for the six Main UN Committees were also elected. 

Omar Hilale of Morocco will head the First Committee, which deals with disarmament; Vanessa Frazier of Malta will chair the Second Committee on Economic and Financial matters; and Djibouti’s Mohamed Siad Doualeh will lead the Third Committee, which covers human rights, humanitarian affairs and social matters. 

Chairing the Fourth Committee on Special Political and Decolonization will be Egriselda Aracely González López of El Salvador; Mher Margaryan of Armenia will head the Fifth Committee on administrative and budgetary matters; and Alya Ahmed Saif Al-Thani of Qatar will lead the Sixth Committee, charged with international law and other legal matter.

UN salutes ‘dedication and bravery’ of peacekeepers; recognizes contributions of youth toward peace  

“From CAR to DRC to Lebanon, our peacekeepers work with youth to reduce violence and sustain peace, including through Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration and Community violence reduction programmes”, Secretary-General António Guterres said. 

And young peacekeepers bring new ideas, hope and energy to UN operations by effectively engaging with local populations, and contributing to improved overall performance and mandate delivery. 

“We salute the dedication and bravery of all our peacekeepers – women and men, the young and the slightly older – and we remain grateful for their service and sacrifice”, underscored the UN chief. “They deserve our full support, and we must continue to work together to do all that we can to improve their safety and security and give them the tools to succeed”. 

Celebrated annually on 29 May, Peacekeepers Day offers a chance to pay tribute to the invaluable contribution that uniformed and civilian personnel make to the work of the Organization and to honour those who have sacrificed their lives in the process. 

Forever in their debt  

Previously, the Secretary-General had lain a wreath at the Peacekeepers Memorial to honour the more than 4,000 women and men who since 1948 have lost their lives while serving under the blue flag. 

Malicious acts, accidents and fatal illnesses – including COVID-19 – had all taken their toll on uniformed and civilian peacekeepers over the past year, he explained. 

Offering his condolences to their families and friends, the UN chief said: “We are forever in their debt”.  

“Their ultimate sacrifice will not be forgotten, and they will always be in our hearts”, he promised. 

Honouring fallen heroes 

After a moment of silence, the UN chief conducted the traditional Dag Hammarskjöld Medal Ceremony, posthumously awarding the 129 blue helmets who lost their lives while serving under the UN flag last year and this January. 

“The challenges and threats faced by our peacekeepers are immense”, he said. “They work hard every day to protect some of the world’s most vulnerable, while facing the dual threats of violence and a global pandemic”.   

Despite COVID-19, across all UN missions, peacekeepers have not only continued to “deliver their core tasks” but are also assisting national and community efforts to fight the virus. 

“I am proud of the work they have done”, said Mr. Guterres. 

Top Military Gender Advocate 

Having recently completed her deployment with the UN-AU Mission in Darfur (UNAMID), which concluded last December, the UN chief awarded Major Steplyne Nyaboga of Kenya the Military Gender Advocate of the Year Award. 

While serving in Darfur, Major Nyaboga witnessed countless women suffer during armed conflict, subject to displacement, sexual violence and political marginalization.  

“Their voices were often not heard. They needed a champion. They found one in Major Nyaboga”, said the Secretary-General.  

Rolling up her sleeves 

Across UNAMID, Major Nyaboga introduced new perspectives and increased awareness of crucial issues affecting women and children while also helping to strengthen engagement with local communities.   

To protect displaced women in Zalingei, she promoted joint patrols along farmlands to enable them to tend to their fields in peace and also trained nearly 95 per cent of the mission’s military contingent on critical protection issues, including sexual and gender-based violence.  

“Her enthusiastic hands-on approach made a profound difference for her colleagues and for the people of Darfur. Her efforts, commitment and passion represent an example for us all”, said the UN chief. 

Accepting the award, Major Nyaboga said, “I am so elated that our efforts in serving humanity have impact and didn’t go unnoticed”. 

Since 2016, the accolade has recognized an individual military peacekeeper who has promoted the principles of Security Council Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace, and Security in UN peace operations. 

 

UN development system responds with ‘solid score’ in face of COVID-19 test 

“In many ways, the COVID-19 crisis has shone a spotlight on international cooperation”, Secretary-General António Guterres told a meeting of the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) on Operational Activities for Development. 

Among other things the pandemic has exposed shortcomings in international financing and vaccine equity, but it has also highlighted the value and enormous potential of international cooperation for development. 

‘Solid’ success 

The UN chief described the pandemic as a ‘litmus test’ for the new Resident Coordinator (RC) network, and repositioned UN development system that has passed “with a solid score”. 

More than 90 per cent of colleagues in capitals agreed that RCs have helped ensure a coherent UN response to the pandemic with national ownership, and more than 80 per cent confirmed success in targeting at-risk groups most hurt by the COVID crisis. 

The data suggest that governments agree that UN Country Teams are more relevant to their development needs; that RCs are more effective in leading Country Teams; and that they serve as a genuine entry point to access the UN system at the country level around the world, the top UN official said. 

UN ‘revolution’ of progress 

Over the past year, the UN has made progress on five key areas of reform, beginning with its Resident Coordinators and Country Teams, which Mr. Guterres said has sparked “a true revolution in the UN System” and supported the UN Sustainable Development Cooperation Framework towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). 

Secondly, he noted that the UN is now better positioned for “more tailored responses to specific country contexts and to countries in special situations”. 

He said there had been progress in advancing a regional review and headway made on the Organization’s commitments to transparency and results. 

“We are making progress in securing more efficient business operations”, the UN chief said as his final point, giving the example of efficiency gains that should shift some $100 million to development activities. 

Crucial areas of work ahead  

Despite encouraging progress, the top UN official warned that the unprecedented scale of today’s COVID-19 recovery and sustainable development challenges have exposed three crucial areas where more must be done. 

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Noting that 65 per cent of UN entities have no formal requirement linking them to the Cooperation Framework, he said “first, we must rapidly consolidate more robust accountabilities and the appropriate presence and configuration at the country level”. 

The second area is to even the playing field, by delivering “integrated policy advice” and strengthening the international debt architecture. 

The third area of action is boosting funding for the overall UN development system, particularly the RC system, according to the UN chief. 

“Now is the time to see governments invest fully in the reforms…to help a strong and different recovery to achieve the SDGs”, he said. 

Strengthening coordination 

A well-resourced coordination system is “essential” to bridge the gap between UN resolutions to advance sustainable development and poverty eradication, which are the actual resources on the ground to help make those resolutions a reality, Mr. Guterres explained. 

Crediting the UN’s progress with “a strengthened coordination function”, he said, “if we cannot sustain this drive, we may undermine our ability to maximize the results of these reforms, thereby further derailing our support to the 2030 Agenda”. 

In early June, the UN chief will launch his report on the reinvigorated Resident Coordinator System, with proposals to strengthen the sustainability and predictability of funding. 

“The RC system needs to be owned by all Member States…as the Organization steps up to meet the SDGs over the decade up to 2030”, the Secretary-General said.“Development coordination is at the core”.

Informal dialogue on UN chief selection process gets underway

The former Portuguese Prime Minister who went on to run the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) for over a decade, before being appointed to the UN’s top job in October 2016, is currently the only official candidate for the position, having being nominated by the Government of Portugal.

He circulated his vision statement for a second five-year term in March, but Friday’s informal interactive dialogue was his opportunity to share a more personal vision of why he was offering himself as a candidate once more.

Selection process

The informal dialogues were introduced during the last selection process in the UN General Assembly, with the idea of allowing candidates to present their views and take questions from a wide range of representatives of the global community, including civil society, establishing a new standard of transparency.

Following informal dialogues with Member States, the Security Council will begin its selection process by June, although there could be further dialogues if other candidates emerge.

As per the UN Charter, the Security Council makes its recommendation for filling the post, to the General Assembly, and since 1996, the Council recommendation has been unanimous.

The Assembly formally appoints the Secretary-General through a resolution, which in the past has been submitted by the President of the General Assembly and adopted by consensus.

Tackling root causes

Outlining his initial motivation for running five years ago, Mr. Guterres said he sought to dedicate his energy “to working on addressing the root causes of war, underdevelopment and violence” and creating conditions in which “people could prosper and thrive”, as both the right thing to do, and “also the smart thing to do”.

He said the failures of globalization, growing inequality, and the man-made destruction of nature and the climate, had made him realize a “renewed social contract” was imperative.

“More and more people live within their own echo chambers. They are lured by misinformation, populism, extremism, xenophobia and racism”, he said.

“We live in a kind of post-enlightenment era that has nurtured irrational, even nihilistic belief systems, spreading fear, denying science and truth.”

A new type of geostrategic fracture, or Cold War, had to be avoided at all costs, he added, and the best antidote, lies in “rekindling a shared commitment to fundamental values.”

Surge in diplomacy

The next Secretary-General needed “to maximise the unique convening power of the UN, to redouble efforts for the surge in diplomacy for peace, to foster trust, build confidence, identify areas of convergence, mediate in good faith and constantly bring people together”, he told Member States, from the General Assembly Hall podium in New York.

Championing those who have traditionally not been offered a seat at the world’s main diplomatic table, he said that civil society, cities, the private sector and young people, were “essential voices that must be heard.”

Injustice and suffering had to be faced up to, he said, and the power dynamics of resource and technology distribution, reckoned with.

The COVID-19 pandemic has been a “stark reminder” of the limitations of collective action, as well as it’s potential, “when it comes to vaccines or acting in solidarity with those underserved or struggling communities and countries.”

Rise to the test

In a note of optimism, he said it was now “up to us, to rise to the test of this pivotal moment for our future. I strongly believe this momentum is unstoppable.”

He offered his services for another term as a Secretary-General who would be “at the service of all Member States equally and with no agenda” except that of the Charter.

“We are at a fragile moment, and it is absolutely clear to me that today’s complex challenges can only inspire a humble approach – one in which the Secretary-General alone neither has all the answers, nor seeks to impose his views…working as a convener, a mediator, a bridge-builder and an honest broker to help find solutions that benefit everyone involved and to overcome the challenges and contractions”.

Mr. Guterres said he would continue to “feel every day, the acute responsibilities of the office”, putting “human dignity and peace with nature, including for future generations, the core of our common work and endeavour.”

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