Why António Guterres Must Not Get Extension as UN Chief

United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres. UN Photo/Jean-Marc Ferré (file)
United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres. UN Photo/Jean-Marc Ferré (file)

Why António Guterres Must Not Get Extension as UN Chief

The world leaders must realize that the misery in the world will increase exponentially if António Guterres is allowed to retain his position through a prejudiced selection process. 

By Rakesh Raman

Despite the lacklustre performance of the current UN Secretary-General António Guterres during his first term, the Security Council on June 8 formally selected him as its nominee to serve a second five-year term.

“The decision taken by the Security Council to recommend to the General Assembly that I serve a second term as Secretary-General of the United Nations is a great honour. I am very grateful to the members of the Council for the trust they have placed in me. My gratitude also extends to Portugal for having nominated me again,” Guterres said in his statement released on June 8. 

While his first five-year term ends on 31 December 2021, Guterres has completely failed in his role as the UN chief. In March, he submitted his vision statement for the 2022-26 period to the President of the General Assembly, which is supposed to take a decision after consultations with the Member States.

His vision statement is full of vague claims and meaningless rhetoric. In fact, under his leadership, the world continues to be plagued by poverty, hunger, corruption, climate crisis, injustice, inequality, human rights violations, and widespread misery. But Guterres could not devise a mechanism to address the mounting problems in the world.

Guterres keeps issuing ineffective copy-paste statements which are ignored by those who are supposed to follow them. As a result, he could not resolve any of the world’s problems. These persisting problems include the coup and subsequent killings of innocent people in Myanmar, attacks on peaceful protesters in Belarus, illegal detention of Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny in Russia, constant human rights violations in India, and a slew of other conflicts.

Guterres also failed to combat global corruption, environmental damage, political frauds, attacks on minority communities, and the global health crisis during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. He has been casually condemning all such troubling developments all around the world, but he could not address the grievances of the victims.

As I had also offered my services for the top UN position, I said in my opening statement that the UN and its different agencies have failed to work as an effective interface between the regimes and their people. Serving the interests of the powerful politicians, the UN is engaged only in shallow sloganeering and raw rhetoric. 

While Guterres and other UN bureaucrats under him are working in a free-wheeling manner, there is hardly any auditable yardstick to empirically measure their performance. Similarly, there is no credible framework to assess the success or failure of different schemes that the UN launches – often with huge public funds. In brief, the entire UN system has failed under António Guterres.

Now it will be a blunder of the world community if his term is extended for five years. The UN top brass must make a transparent selection process in which other candidates are also given an equal opportunity to present their credentials on an open platform. 

Since most suitable candidates will not be recommended by the Member States to which they belong primarily because of their dissent against the governments in those states, the UN must change its selection process to allow such candidates to compete.

The interviews with all the candidates should be live-streamed and they should be allowed to debate on various issues on a common platform in front of the global audience. The entire selection process must be revamped to appoint the most suitable candidate for the top UN post.

The world leaders must realize that the misery in the world will increase exponentially if António Guterres is allowed to retain his position through a prejudiced selection process.

By Rakesh Raman, who is a national award-winning journalist and social activist. He is the founder of a humanitarian organization RMN Foundation which is working in diverse areas to help the disadvantaged and distressed people in the society.

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