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Challenges before UN

Challenges before UN
Highlights

High hopes are being pinned on former Portuguese Prime Minister Antonio Guterres, 67, who has been appointed as the new Secretary-General of the United Nations for a five-year term, replacing Ban Ki-moon from the New Year. 

High hopes are being pinned on former Portuguese Prime Minister Antonio Guterres, 67, who has been appointed as the new Secretary-General of the United Nations for a five-year term, replacing Ban Ki-moon from the New Year.

Guterres is not new to the multilateral body; he has already ably assisted Ban Ki-moon as the head of UN Refugee Agency. Ban’s 10-year stint is being rated as lacklustre, if not least inspirational. A dyed-in-the-wool socialist, Guterres is expected to strive to bring peace, succour to the world, being wracked by famine, global growth slump, civil wars and terrors.

He should uphold the collective moral resolve of the world body to end the wars in Africa and Syria and rally round nations against religious extremism. Never in its 71 years of existence has the United Nations been confronted with so many global crises.

The UNHCR, which Guterres headed from 2005 to 2015, has just drawn global attention to around 10 million stateless people who are thrown out of or fled from their countries and are denied basic rights such as education, healthcare, employment and freedom of movement.

The poignancy of the moment is not lost on the world, when the UNHCR tried shaking up global conscience that nearly 34,000 people are forcibly displaced every day as a result of conflict or persecution. Thus, Guterres’ job becomes that much more crucial as the UN S-G to impel the world body and its Security Council to attend to the crises.

Guterres, who hitherto sought and provided solutions to displaced individuals and communities, has to scale his efforts to work at the nations level, his brief encompassing various functions assigned by General Assembly, Security Council and other UN bodies.

He must hammer home into a growing skeptical world the need for stronger moral authority and powers of the UN. It is heartening that he has vowed to veer the UN away from merely managing resources and crises to reducing conflicts and, thereby, the numbers of their potential victims.

What he is essentially underscoring is ushering in of a lasting peace and universal human rights. The UN often whitewashed crimes and pains due to interference by some member-nations in others, as in Syria and Yemen.

Fanaticism is spawning murderous regimes around the world. He needs to make the world listen to sane voices like India’s to turn against some rogue states which in the words of Indian PM are acting as motherships of terror.

China’s intransigence in international maritime waters and NATO’s encirclement of Russia should not be lost sight of. As an analyst aptly remarked, the UN wasn’t created to take us to heaven but it may stop us from going to hell. Peace is key to development.

Apart from pursuing it, unwavering attempts must be made towards realising the 17 Sustainable Development Goals adopted by the 193-member body. Vigorous enforcement of Paris Climate Pact and the just concluded pact to phase out Hydrofluorocarbons are equally formidable.

Guterres must strive to maintain the commitment and unity of the member-nations. Challenges are aplenty but then these are exceptional times.

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