The UN General Assembly(UNGA) will appoint Antonio Guterres as next Secretary-General to replace the retiring Ban Ki-moon on 1 January next year.
About Antonio Guterres,
António Manuel de Oliveira Guterres is a Portuguese politician and diplomat who is the designate Secretary-General of the United Nations. Guterres was Prime Minister of Portugal from 1995 to 2002. He also served for a time as President of the Socialist International.
- He was the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees from June 2005 to December 2015, and in October 2016 the United Nations General Assembly elected him by acclamation to become the next United Nations Secretary-General, succeeding the retiring Ban Ki-moon.
- On 29 February 2016, Guterres submitted his nomination as Portugal’s candidate for the 2016 UN Secretary-General selection.
- The UN’s role in the Haiti cholera outbreak has been widely discussed and criticized after Ban Ki-moon administration denied the issue for several months. According to the Boston-based Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti, the UN is the proximate cause for bringing cholera to Haiti.
- Peace keepers sent to Haiti from Nepal were carrying asymptomatic cholera and they did not treat their waste properly before dumping it into Haiti’s water stream.
- During his UNSG informal dialogue, Jamaica, on behalf of the Caribbean Community, asked if the UN should assume liability for any deaths within local populations that result from the introduction of infectious disease by its peacekeepers. Jamaica also asked if Guterres believes compensation should be provided.
- Guterres responded by calling the situation a “particularly complex question.” He says that it is difficult to preserve diplomatic immunity while also ensuring there is no impunity, but that he would “pay a lot of attention in trying to find the right equilibrium between these two aspects that are absolutely crucial.
- Another issue that has been brought up is the sexual exploitation and abuse by UN peacekeepers. This gross problem was brought to light after Anders Kompass exposed the sexual assault of children by peacekeepers in the Central African Republic and, as a consequence, dismissed by Ban Ki-moon administration before being rehabilitated in court.
- During the United Nations Secretary General Candidate informal dialogues, Guterres indicated it was completely unacceptable that there be UN forces committing human rights violations such as rape and sexual violence. “All of us together—states and UN—must do our utmost to ensure that any kind of action of this type is severely punished,” remarked Guterres.
- The United States raised the question of international tribunals to try peacekeepers for their crimes. Guterres responded by saying an independent jurisdiction would be excellent but that “the only way to get there is through a new compact with all key parties true contributors, financial contributors, and to make sure that there is an adjustment in the relation between countries the UN and the support those that are contributing with troops receive in order to be able to do it much better.
- He also indicated that there is a gap between theoretical zero-tolerance and the ineffective zero-tolerance that actually exists on the ground that needs to be overcome.
- On 5 October, the 15-member United Nations Security Council announced that they had agreed to nominate Guterres, after an informal secret ballot in which he gained 13 encourage votes and two no opinion votes.
- The UNSC officially nominated Guterres by adopting a formal resolution on 6 October, and a week later he was elected by the United Nations General Assembly on the seventy-first session. Guterres is expected to take office on 1 January 2017.
About UNGA :
The United Nations General Assembly is one of the six principal organs of the United Nations and the only one in which all member nations have equal representation.
- Its powers are to oversee the budget of the United Nations, appoint the non-permanent members to the Security Council, receive reports from other parts of the United Nations and make recommendations in the form of General Assembly Resolutions. It has also established a wide number of subsidiary organs.
- The General Assembly meets under its president or Secretary-General in regular yearly sessions the main part of which lasts from September to December and resumed part from January until all issues are addressed.
- It can also reconvene for special and emergency special sessions. Its composition, functions, powers, voting, and procedures are set out in Chapter IV of the United Nations Charter.
- The first session was convened on 10 January 1946 in the Westminster Central Hall in London and included representatives of 51 nations.
- Voting in the General Assembly on important questions, namely, recommendations on peace and security, budgetary concerns and the election, admission, suspension or expulsion of members – is bya two-thirds majority of those present and voting.
- Other questions are decided by a straight forward majority. Each member country has one vote. Apart from approval of budgetary matters, including adoption of a scale of assessment, Assembly resolutions are not binding on the members.
- The Assembly may make recommendations on any matters within the scope of the UN, except matters of peace and security under Security Council consideration.The one state, one vote power structure potentially allows states comprising just five percent of the world population to pass a resolution by a two-thirds vote.
- During the 1980s, the Assembly became a forum for the “North-South dialogue”: the discussion of issues between industrialized nations and developing countries.
- These issues came to the fore because of the phenomenal growth and changing makeup of the UN membership. In 1945, the UN had 51 members.
- It now has 193, of which more than two-thirds are developing countries. Because of their numbers, developing countries are often able to determine the agenda of the Assembly.
- For many developing countries, the UN is the source of much of their diplomatic influence and the principal outlet for their foreign relations initiatives.