UNITED NATIONS — The United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) on Friday appointed Antonio Guterres as the UN secretary-general for a second term of five years beginning Jan. 1, 2022.
President of the 75th UNGA session Volkan Bozkir has officially announced the appointment.
Speaking to reporters after the appointment, Guterres said that he will take on the responsibility of serving a second term as secretary-general “with profound gratitude and a deep commitment to work together to advance the UN Charter at a time of great peril and promise.”
Noting that the pandemic “has revealed our shared vulnerability, our inter-connectedness and the absolute need for collective action,” the secretary-general said that “our biggest challenge – and at the same time our greatest opportunity – is to use this crisis as a chance to turn things around, to pivot to a world that learns its lessons, recovers fairer, greener and more sustainably, and forges ahead with much more effective global cooperation to address global concerns.”
Guterres recalled that the “driving theme” in the vision statement which lays out the details for his second term is “prevention,” noting that means the “prevention in all its aspects – from conflict, climate change, pandemics to poverty and inequality.”
Talking about his 10 “inter-related imperatives for action,” the secretary-general said that the first starts with “mounting a massive and enduring response to the COVID-19 pandemic and its consequences.”
“Our single most immediate test will be effectively overcoming COVID-19 and equipping the world to prevent and be better prepared for future pandemics and other existential threats,” he said.
“The virus is spreading faster than vaccines,” said the secretary-general, adding that “we need an all-out effort to ensure vaccines for everyone everywhere – and we need it now.”
Talking about other points of “imperatives for action,” he said that efforts will be made to “leave no stone unturned in the search for peace and security,” make peace with nature and press for climate action, and “turbocharge” the Decade of Action to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals and a more equitable world.
“The struggle against inequality is at the core of a new globalization that is fairer, more inclusive, sustainable and human-centric. We will advance our efforts to integrate work within the UN system that straddles across peace and security, sustainable development and humanitarian action, firmly underpinned by human rights,” he said.
Other action plans will include the protection of human rights, taking gender equality “to the next level,” advancing multilateralism and our common agenda, embarking on a “United Nations 2.0.”
On “United Nations 2.0,” the top UN official said that “we will strive for a more integrated, cohesive and joined up UN that also actively brings in outside networks.”
Referring to his last point for action, Guterres said that “underpinning all our efforts, is the focus on people – bettering the lives of individuals, families and communities. Reaffirming the dignity and worth of the human person. Rekindling a strong commitment to shared and enduring values.”
Guterres told reporters that “this is a time to strengthen multilateralism. This is a time to understand that each country alone can do nothing, that independently of the divisions that exist, countries must come together.”
“To rebuild trust is the way to make the impossible possible,” the secretary-general noted.
Answering the question regarding the vaccination for the COVID-19, the top UN official said that the world needs “a global vaccination plan.”
“My suggestion is to create an emergency task force at G20 level with the governments of all countries that produce vaccines or can produce vaccines …”
In responding to the question about the lesson that he learned in his first term, the secretary-general said “the most important lesson is that we need to rebuild solidarity and trust, and if there is something I need to do better in the second term, it is to make sure that I do everything I can to rebuild trust, trust among governments, trust between people in the institutions and trust in the United Nations.”