scorecardAll about UNGS António Guterres, functions, selection, quotes and history
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All about UNGS António Guterres, functions, selection, quotes and history

All about UNGS António Guterres, functions, selection, quotes and history
PoliticsPolitics3 min read

UNSG or SG is the abbreviation of the office known as The secretary-general of the United Nations. This person is the head of the United Nations Secretariat, which is one of the six principal wings of the United Nations. The main role of the United Nations Secretary-General is to function as the chief administrative officer of the United Nations. The functions, responsibilities and powers of the UNSG is laid down clearly in the United Nations Charter in Chapter XV (Articles 97 to 101).

The present UNSG - António Guterres

As of 2019, the UNSG is António Guterres, who hails from Portugal. He was duly appointed in his post by the General Assembly convened on October 13, 2016. Born in 1949, António Manuel de Oliveira Guterres is a diplomat and politician from Portuguese. He is the ninth UNSG in line since the establishment of the United Nations Organization. Before assuming this office, António Guterres served as the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees from 2005 to 2015. Earlier, he was also the Prime Minister of Portugal from 1995 to 2002. He was also the Secretary-General of the Socialist Party between 1992 and 2002. Antonio Guterres served as President of the Socialist International between 1999 and 2005. Most notably, he was ranked by the Portuguese public as the best Prime Minister of the 30 previous years in the country.

Selection of the UNSG

The Secretariat Building is about 505 feet tall and is the central masterpiece of the United Nations Headquarters.

The Secretary-General is elected for this post by the General Assembly. In doing so, the General Assembly considers the recommendations of the United Nations Security Council. Since the recommendation must be made by the Security Council, any five permanent members of this body have the power to veto a nomination. In most cases, the UNSG is persons hailing from middle powers and do not have much fame before they were elected to this office.

Precedent in previous selections set the official qualifications for the office of the UNSG. The person who will be appointed to this office must not be the citizen of the five permanent members of the United Nations Organization. As per the General Assembly resolution 51/241 that was made by the UNO in 1997, due consideration must be given to factors like the rotation of the candidates’ national origin and gender equality. However, so strangely, no woman candidate was ever selected for this post so far.

The tenure of the UNSG will be 5 years. Excepting Boutros Boutros-Ghali, who was vetoed by the United States during the 1996 selection, every UNSG was reselected for this post for the second consecutive term. Till date, no secretary-general has ever attempted to secure this post for the third term.

Role of UNSG

The main role of the UNSG is to function as the world moderator. The secretary-general of the UN is the chief administrative officer of the United Nations. He is the one who heads every single meeting of the UN General Assembly, and of the UN Security Council, Trusteeship Council and the Economic and Social Council. The UNSG is also responsible for submitting the annual report to the General Assembly. Their crucial function is to notify the Security Council about the issues that "in their opinion may threaten the maintenance of international peace and security".

The UN Secretary-General’s office is much dependent on the support rendered by the member states of the UN. However, the UNSG has the power to place any item on the provisional agenda of the Security Council. A greater part of their mediation work happens behind the scenes.

Top Quotes by Antonio Guterres

"The legacy of nuclear testing is nothing but destruction. The CTBT is vital to ensuring there are no more victims; it is also essential to advancing nuclear disarmament."

"National priorities may differ, but the international community shares a common goal to protect people’s security and well-being while striving for the progress and dignity of all."

"For millions in conflict-affected situations around the world, peacekeeping is a necessity and hope. Let us work together to make peacekeeping more effective in protecting people and advancing peace."

"On World Press Freedom Day, I call on all to defend the rights of journalists, whose efforts help us to build a better world for all.”

"No democracy is complete without access to transparent and reliable information. It is the cornerstone for building fair and impartial institutions, holding leaders accountable and speaking truth to power."

The list of UNGS from the beginning till date

1. Gladwyn Jebb (1945–1946)

2. Trygve Lie (1946–1952)

3. Dag Hammarskjöld (1953-1961)

4. U Thant (1961-1971)

5. Kurt Waldheim (1972-1981)

6. Javier Pérez de Cuéllar (1982-1991)

7. Boutros Boutros-Ghali (1992–1996)

8. Kofi Annan (1997–2006)

9. Ban Ki-moon (2007-2016)

10. António Guterres (2017 – till date)