New UN Secretary General, Same Challenges
The United Nations (UN) often faces criticism, especially criticism about how they are ineffective. But when it comes time for a leadership change, everyone, even the critics, pay attention.
Current Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon will be stepping down this December and the talk about who would be his successor loomed large. This was particularly so because there were a number of women in the race. Moon’s successor was recently announced not to be one of those women, but Antonio Guterres.
The election of Guterres tells us something about what the UN thinks will be important during the coming term. And that thing is refugees. Guterres served from June 2005 to December 2015 as the UN High Commissioner for Refugees. During his term he oversaw profound reform of the organization and dealt with responding to some of the largest refugee crises since World War II.
In the past, Guterres has also acted as Prime Minister of Portugal and president of the European Council. He has also claimed that there have been too many meetings and too few decisions. He appears, at least so far, to be a perfect choice for UN Secretary General.
In a recent speech, Guterres has claimed his priorities are humility, empathy for the underprivileged, and the empowerment of women and girls. As of January 1/2017 we will see what this really means for the UN. Perhaps a new, decision focused Secretary General will silence the critics, but this seems unlikely. Regardless, we will soon see what the UN is like under a new leader. I, for one, will be sad to see Ban Ki-Moon leave, but I am excited to see what the future holds.
Kali Larsen is the News Editor of Juris Diction