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World

Guterres to run for second term as UN chief: official

  • Guterres, a former prime minister of Portugal and the UN's former high commissioner for refugees, will see his first term expire in December.
12 Jan 2021

UNITED NATIONS: UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres will run for a second five-year term as the organization's chief, his spokesman said Monday.

Guterres informed the president of the General Assembly and Security Council that "he is available to serve a second term as secretary general of the United Nations," which would run from 2022 to 2026, spokesman Stephane Dujarric told a daily press briefing.

Diplomatic officials said Guterres, 71, told the UN Security Council's permanent members on Friday that he planned to seek a second term.

A diplomat told AFP that during the meeting with representatives from China, the United States, France, Britain and Russia, Guterres described the many threats the world faces.

He underscored the need to reconcile "humanity and nature" and the importance of improved international cooperation on other challenges such as cybersecurity and terrorism, the diplomat added.

Other diplomats said Guterres' hope to serve a second term has so far not been met with any resistance from the permanent Security Council members.

It is traditional for a UN secretary general to serve the maximum two terms, though before November's US election, diplomats said Guterres was not planning to seek a second term if President Donald Trump were reelected.

The outgoing US leader scorned multilateralism in many instances and assailed UN bodies such as the World Health Organization.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he "warmly welcomed" Guterres' decision to run for a second term and congratulated him on "doing a fantastic job."

"It would be a mistake to simply replace him for tokenistic reasons," Johnson said in an apparent reference to the idea of appointing the first female secretary general to replace him.

"He is very thoughtful in his analysis," Johnson added. "But also the way in which he is advocating for new solutions to the new problems we face."

Several non-governmental groups have criticized Guterres previously, saying he has been too quiet on human rights issues.

Guterres has said he has pushed various causes with world leaders behind the scenes.

"If Antonio Guterres wants 2nd term as UN chief, he should commit to implementing his Call to Action on Human Rights," Louis Charbonneau, who heads the UN-monitoring wing of Human Rights Watch, said on Twitter.

Guterres, a former prime minister of Portugal and the UN's former high commissioner for refugees, will see his first term expire in December.

Over the course of the year, the Security Council and General Assembly will confirm whether or not Guterres will serve a second term.

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