UN chief looks set for re-election as challengers face long chances


The post of Secretary-General of the United Nations is up for grabs again, but so far there is only one officially qualified candidate for the post – the current Secretary-General – despite a number of others who are looking to shake things up at Turtle Bay.

Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, who took over the post in 2017, looks like a candidate for a second five-year term from next January, unless someone who meets the UN criteria for the post enters. at the last moment.

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Guterres on Wednesday released a vision statement for his next five years at the helm, calling on the UN to “act as a catalyst and platform for more inclusive, networked and effective forms of multilateralism.”

“Our direction of travel is clear on peace and security, climate action, sustainable development, human rights and the humanitarian imperative,” he said in the statement.

Emma Reilly, a human rights lawyer who works for the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) in Switzerland, is someone who seeks to qualify as a candidate and shake up the United Nations system.

Reilly denounced his bosses for what she said was handing over the names of Chinese dissidents who came to speak at the UN Human Rights Council at the behest of Communist China.


For her efforts, Reilly says she has faced retaliation from her bosses for being a whistleblower and continues to hang on to her job for speaking out against the practice. Reilly told Fox News his decision to challenge the post was to get the global body to end nepotism and corruption so it can fulfill its mandate.

She’s hoping that running for secretary general will mean she gets an audition and can compete in the race – but that is only if she can get a nomination. So far, Reilly and six other candidates have yet to be approved by a Member State.

The process to qualify as a candidate is complicated, and it is shared between the President of the Security Council and the President of the General Assembly (PGA).

“As to the difference between a candidate and a candidate, that is the question we are facing right now,” Volkan Bozkir, president of the PGA, told reporters. “I think it is only when the President of the General Assembly and the President of the Security Council sign a joint letter that a candidate can become a candidate.”


He added that there were still gray areas and noted that he believed the Security Council saw the rules as being that only candidates or candidates “backed by a country will be considered by the Security Council.” .

While Reilly credited Guterres with ordering her protection as a whistleblower three years ago, she said he was simply being ignored by senior executives. This, for her, makes him a lame candidate.

But she hopes an appointment would allow her to grill the UN chief on a range of issues – including the UN’s relationship with China, which has come under further scrutiny and criticism. amid the coronavirus pandemic last year.

“If I can get a country to name me, I can make sure Guterres is asked about corruption, waste, abject failures in tackling sexual exploitation and abuse or endangering rights activists human rights, and the growing violation of the rules to please some member states, most notably China, ”Reilly said.

Other than Reilly, a UN employee from Canada and a former president from Ecuador are among the candidates, but for now all remain candidates – not candidates as described by the President of the General Assembly. United Nations.

But, even though another prospect may make the list, Guterres would still be the favorite. He can cite his handling of the UN during COVID-19, as well as keeping the body together under fierce criticism from the United States during the Trump administration.

Even former UN Ambassador Kelly Craft, who served under Trump, had kind words for the former Portuguese prime minister.

“Antonio Guterres is a man of substance. He is a good man, a strong man, with very strong moral convictions. He is also a deeply empathetic person,” Craft told Fox News.

She also said it was not surprising that other member states did not ask for their own candidates, calling it “a testament to Secretary-General Guterres’ position in the world”.

She cited not only her leadership in recent years as SG, but also as director of the United Nations Refugee Agency before that.

“Her work as Director of UNHCR has clearly shown this passion and concern in action,” she said. “And he brought that focus on humanity to the role of secretary general. His call for a global ceasefire during the pandemic reflects the leadership and sincerity of his commitment to improving the lives of those who need it most.

Craft also says he took the administration’s criticism of the body and the need for reform seriously.

The Secretary-General rightly saw criticism of the UN as a useful way to force the institution to take its mandates seriously. He is fully aware that the United States is the biggest contributor to the UN because [he] understands that US taxpayers, and global taxpayers, need the premier international organization to be reliable stewards of their money, ”she said.

But the former ambassador also spoke positively about whistleblowers like Reilly.


“Whistleblowers cringe to fight for good governance and to expose corruption and other wrongdoing. The United Nations, like most bureaucracies, is susceptible to such abuses,” he said. she declared. “I know Secretary-General Guterres takes the protection of whistleblowers seriously and he is aware of Ms. Reilly’s situation. The UN bureaucracy runs deep, leaving room for systemic failures and unscrupulous individuals praying for whistleblowers. From top to bottom, the institution must ensure the strongest possible protection of whistleblowers. “

The first interaction with the candidates for Secretary-General and UN member states will take place on May 7 when Guterres sets out his vision for a second term before the General Assembly.

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