New UN chief to boost gender equality, women empowerment

15 Oct 2016 | By Mansi Motwani

After being unanimously voted as Ban Ki-moon's successor, Antonio Guterres vowed to work as a "convener and bridge-builder" prioritizing human dignity, gender equality and xenophobia.

"Protecting and empowering women and bringing about gender equality are and will continue to be a priority commitment for me", he said.

Mr. Guterres asserted faith in the United Nations' values of peace, justice, human dignity, tolerance and solidarity.

In context: The United Nations Secretary General

BackgroundUnited Nations Secretariat

The United Nations Secretariat is the executive arm of the United Nations and is one of the six dominant organs of the UN.

The most important function of the Secretariat is to formulate an agenda for decision-making bodies of the UN namely the General Assembly, Economic and Social Council and Security Council.

The Secretary General heads the United Nations Secretariat.

InformationSecretary General of the United Nations

The Secretary General of the United Nations (UNSG or SG) is the de facto spokesperson and leader of the United Nations.

According to Article 97 of the United Nations Charter, appointment of the Secretary General is done "by the General Assembly upon the recommendation of the Security Council."

Secretaries-General are appointed for a term of five years and may be re-elected for subsequent terms.

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Role of the Secretary General

FunctionsRole of the Secretary General

US President Franklin Roosevelt conceptualized the Secretary General as a "world moderator."

Articles in the UN Charter describe the Secretary General as the chief administrative officer "in all meetings of the General Assembly, Security Council, Economic and Social Council and Trusteeship Council."

The Secretary General can also alert the Security Council on matters which, according to him/her, threaten maintenance of international peace and security.

Hardest job in the world

In 1946, Trygve Lie, a Norwegian politician and also the first Secretary General of the United Nations, described his job as "the most impossible job in the world."

15 Oct 2016Antonio Guterres newly elected Secretary General

Former Prime Minister of Portugal, Antonio Guterres, was appointed as the next Secretary General of the United Nations.

He will assume his duties at the end of his predecessor Ban Ki-moon's second 5-year term on 1st January, 2017.

Antonio Guterres chaired the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UN refugee agency) for 10 years and was chosen from 13 candidates.

Ban Ki-moon on his successor

Ban Ki-moon told the assembly that Antonio Guterres "is best known where it counts most-on the frontlines of armed conflict and humanitarian suffering. His political instincts are those of the United Nations, co-operation for the common good and shared responsibility of the people."
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AnticipationExpectations from Antonio Guterres

The primary expectation from Mr. Guterres will be to provide solutions for the refugee crisis that have destabilized the world.

With the Security Council standing conflicted, Guterres will have to lead the UN and bring about stability in the Syrian refugee crisis.

Tackling global terrorism and conflict is yet another expectation that Antonio Guterres will have to live up to.

15 Oct 2016New UN chief to boost gender equality, women empowerment

Why Mr. Guterres is rooting for gender equality

"I have long been aware of the hurdles women face in society, in the family and in the workplace just because of their gender. I have witnessed the violence they are subject to during conflict, or while fleeing it, just because they are women."