PNND congratulates António Guterres as new UN Chief

UN General Assembly appoints António Guterres as new UN Secretary-General.

PNND sends a letter of congratulations.

PNND congratulates António Guterres who on October 13 was appointed by the UN General Assembly as the new UN Secretary-General. Mr Guterres, former Prime Minister of Portugal and chief of UN High Commission on Refugees (UNHCR), takes up the position on January 1, 2017.

In a letter to Mr Guterres following his election, PNND Co-Presidents affirm that ‘Your election is testament to the skills you have demonstrated, the leadership you have taken and the vision you have put forward for the building of global peace, sustainable development and human security through the United Nations. We note, in particular, your professional and successful leadership of UNHCR over a time of increasing demands and new challenges to this important UN agency.’

The election of this, the ninth Secretary-General, came with ground-breaking changes in terms of transparency and involvement of the civil society. This arose from a very successful Campaign 1 for 7 Billion and the leadership of the President of the UN General Assembly from 2015-2016, Mr Mogens Lyketofft. For the first time the nomination and selection process was open, the CVs and vision statements of the nominees were public, and there were open sessions of the UN General Assembly to question the candidates.

I am very proud that we broke new ground with unique transparency in the selection process […] and helped to include the global public in the debate about the future of the UN,” said Mr Lykketoft, who was a member of PNND before becoming President of the UNGA.

Consequently, Campaign 1 for 7 Billion believes that the choice of António Guterres has  taken into consideration the widespread call for merit to prevail over regional considerations and the political interests of Council members.”

Guterres is greatly known for his professional and successful leadership of UNCHR as the world faces the worst refugee crisis since the Second World War. He has immense respect within the United Nations, coming second  in a poll of over 1000 UN officials and staff on their preferred choice for UN Secretary-General (Helen Clark, Head of the UN Development Program, came first).

PNND Co-Presidents commend Guterres for …your approach of building cooperation between relevant UN agencies and political processes to address key international issues. Such cooperation is vital in an increasingly inter-connected world – where peace, disarmament, development, human rights and environmental protection overlap and impact on each other.’

Guterres takes office with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) issue pressing on the UN’s agenda.  The PNND letter ‘…highlights the specific connections between nuclear disarmament and the achievement of peace, security and the Sustainable Development Goals. The tensions exacerbated by nuclear threat postures prevent the global cooperation required to meet the SDGs. And the $100 billion spent annually on maintaining and modernizing nuclear weapons systems is sorely needed to instead address climate change and fund the other SDGs.’

Guterres affirmed in his UNSG candidacy that "we need a surge in diplomacy for peace."  Such diplomacy is sorely needed, as tensions between nuclear-armed States are increasing, nuclear doctrines are being hardened, and nuclear weapons systems being modernised.

Having received the unanimous support of the UN Security Council – including the nuclear-armed P5 – for his candidacy, perhaps Guterres could play the type of bridging role required, especially if supported by parliamentarians and civil society. In their letter, PNND Co-Presidents therefore highlight ‘UNFOLD ZERO, a global platform to promote UN initiatives for nuclear disarmament and UN mechanisms to resolve conflicts and achieve security without reliance on nuclear weapons, or on any threat or use of force. ‘

Finally the PNND Co-Presidents ‘welcome the positive cooperation with previous UN Secretary-Generals, including Mr Ban Ki-moon who made a special point of joining with us to encourage parliaments and parliamentarians to act for the peace and security of a nuclear-weapon-free world’ and expressed an open-ness and desire to also work closely with Mr Guterres in his new role as UN Secretary-General.