UN Secretary-General – UPSC Prelims

What is the news?
Secretary-General António Guterres has been formally  approved for a second term by the United Nations Security Council (UNSC). He will have a term of five more years  starting January 1, 2022.
    • The recommendation will now go to the UN General Assembly (UNGA) which is expected to make the appointment.
  • Process of UN Secretary-General  Appointment:
    • Appointment: The UN Secretary-General is appointed by the UN General Assembly on the recommendation of the UN Security Council.
  • Procedure:
    • To be selected as a UN Secretary-General, a candidate must receive the votes of at least 9 members of the United Nations Security Council, with no vetoes from permanent members.
    • Therefore, the Secretary-General’s selection is subject to the veto of any of the five permanent members (France, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States) of the UN Security Council.
    • The US used this power to deny Egypt’s Boutros-Ghali a second term in 1997 and China did the same in 1981 for denying Austria’s Waldheim a third term.
    • The other 10 elected non-permanent members of the UN Security Council do not have veto powers. But their backing is crucial, as a candidate requires at least 9 out of 15 votes to be recommended for the top job.
    • Moreover, for any candidate to have a real chance at being considered for the top post, a recommendation by any UN member state is essential.
    • In the current race, Guterres was endorsed by Portugal for a second term, and none of his seven other challengers received backing from a member state.
  • Functions of UN Secretary-General:
    • The UN Charter refers to the Secretary-General as the UN chief administrative officer.
    • Mandate: UN Secretary-General shall act and perform such functions as given to him by the UN Security Council, General Assembly, Economic and Social Council and other United Nations organs.
    • Functions: The Secretary-General’s day-to-day work includes:
    • attendance at sessions of United Nations bodies;
    • consultations with world leaders, government officials and
    • worldwide travel intended to keep the Secretary-General in touch with the peoples of the UN member states.
  • Note:
    • All the nine occupants of the post have been men.
    • There is technically no limit to the number of five-year terms a Secretary-General may serve. But none so far has held office for more than two terms.
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