World

Antonio Guterres to serve a 2nd term as UN secretary general

The United Nations General Assembly elected Antonio Guterres to a second term as secretary general on Friday, giving him another five years at the helm of the 193-member organization.

Guterres faced nominal opposition, but other candidates weren't backed by any national governments

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres has been elected for a 2nd term. (Maxim Shemetov, Pool via AP)

The United Nations General Assembly elected Antonio Guterres to a second term as secretary general on Friday, giving him another five years at the helm of the 193-member organization.

Ambassadors in the assembly chamber burst into applause as Assembly President Volkan Bozkir announced Guterres's re-election by acclamation.

Just before the announcement, Estonia's UN Ambassador Sven Jurgenson, the current Security Council president, read a resolution adopted by the 15-member council recommending Guterres for a second term.

Under the UN Charter, the General Assembly elects the secretary general on the recommendation of the Security Council.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau congratulated Guterres in a statement and looked forward to working with him to "further strengthen the partnership between Canada and the UN in addressing global challenges," including on climate change and promoting peace.

WATCH | Guterres's recent interview with CBC News on the topic of climate change:

UN Secretary General says world is mobilizing to tackle climate crisis

6 months ago
2:27
Secretary General of the United Nations Antonio Guterres says in an exclusive interview with CBC’s chief political correspondent Rosemary Barton that he’s seeing a lot of movement and enthusiasm around climate change in different by governments around the world, but more still needs to be done on mitigation and adaptation. 2:27

"As the ninth Secretary General, his role in guiding the UN's response to the global COVID-19 pandemic encouraged international collaboration and helped deliver comprehensive and coordinated solutions to the health, humanitarian, human rights, and socioeconomic impacts of the crisis worldwide," added Trudeau.

Continuing to address 'mistrust,' inequality

Guterres was the only candidate nominated by a UN member state, his home country, Portugal, where he previously served as prime minister. The country's current president was in the assembly chamber to watch the event.

Immediately after his re-election, Guterres took the oath of office and delivered an address urging UN member nations "to do everything we can to overcome current geostrategic divides and dysfunctional power relations."

"There are too many asymmetrics and paradoxes," he said. "They need to be addressed head-on."

Guterres expressed hope that "what we are living through today in terms of mistrust is, I hope, an aberration, but it cannot become the norm."

WATCH | Guterres talks to CBC about documented Xianjiang abuses:

UN negotiating with China to get investigators into Xinjiang region, Antonio Guterres says

6 months ago
2:00
As the United Nations faces international pressure to investigate reports of human rights abuses in China, Secretary General Antonio Guterres says they are negotiating with China to get access to the Xinjiang region to investigate accusations of genocide against Uyghur Muslims. 2:00

Traditionally, candidates for the UN's top job have been nominated by a UN member state, but that is not a requirement in its 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 UN 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 former Ecuadorian President Rosalia Arteaga.

With files from CBC News

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