Security Council backs Guterres for second term as UN chief

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres attends a joint news conference with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov following the talks in Moscow, Russia, Wednesday, May 12, 2021. (Maxim Shemetov, Pool via AP)
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres attends a joint news conference with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov following the talks in Moscow, Russia, Wednesday, May 12, 2021. (Maxim Shemetov, Pool via AP)

CAMEROON – The U.N. Security Council gave its unanimous backing to Secretary-General Antonio Guterres for a second term on Tuesday, assuring his election as the next U.N. chief by the General Assembly, most likely on June 18.

The 15 council members adopted a brief resolution by acclamation and approved a communique at a brief private meeting endorsing Guterres — the only candidate — to be the world’s top diplomat for another five years starting Jan. 1.

“He has proven worthy of the post already with the five years he has been in office.” said Estonia’s U.N. Ambassador Sven Jurgenson, the current council president, after reading the communique to the media. “He has been an excellent secretary-general. He’s a bridge builder. ... He’s able to speak to everybody, and I think this is something that is expected from the secretary-general.”

Guterres called the council’s decision “a great honor” and said in a statement, “I would be deeply humbled if the General Assembly were to entrust me with the responsibilities of a second mandate.”

He said it has been “an immense privilege” to serve “we the peoples” -- the opening words of the U.N. Charter -- during the past 4 ½ years “when we have been facing so many complex challenges.”

Traditionally, candidates for the U.N.’s top job have been nominated by a U.N. member state, but that is not a requirement in the U.N. Charter or in a resolution adopted by the General Assembly in 2015. That measure made the previously largely secretive selection of the secretary-general more open and transparent, allowing member states for the first time to see basic information about all candidates, including their resumes, and to question them at open sessions.

Guterres, a former Portuguese prime minister and U.N. refugee chief, was elected by the assembly to succeed Ban Ki-moon after a hotly contested and transparent race in October 2016 that initially included 13 candidates -- seven women and six men. Guterres took office on Jan. 1, 2017.

This year, seven individuals submitted applications to be secretary-general without backing from any government, including most recently former Ecuadorian President Rosalia Arteaga.