Challenges for new United Nations boss

Questions about the direction that the United Nations is headed in are surfacing after the United Nations elected Antonio Guterres to lead the organization for the next five years. Despite a rare show of unity among the Permanent 5 members of the Security Council in electing Mr Guterres, the absence of a female winner has raised suggestions that more of the same could be on the way for the world body.

The United Nations is as divided as it has ever been on global affairs. Wars raging in Syria and Iraq, and ongoing lower intensity conflicts simmering in Afghanistan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, in South Sudan are causing a humanitarian crisis on a scale not seen since World War 2.

The outright distrust between the United States and Russia, competing as they are once again for global influence, has ensured that the bloody carnage of Syria continues into the foreseeable future. The refugees that are now flooding into other nations trying to get away  from Daesh, from the onslaught of bombs, rockets and bullets shows no signs of letting up. Yet the free nations that are participating in the conflict or arming participants do nothing to help the situation by giving them a reason to leave in the first place.

I had hoped the United Nations would elect Ms Clark, or if not her, at least one of the other female candidates who put their hand up for the job. All of them had had impressive curriculum vitae’s, and would have gathered an array of diplomatic skills in their prior jobs. To elect another male, however good he might be smacks a bit of an old boys club and vested interests getting in the way of the long term well being of the United Nations. The transparency of the United Nations, and its ability to stand up to aggressors in breach of international law is in dire need of a significant overhaul, and Ms Clark was one of the few and the only female candidate pushing for a transparent organization.

So, whilst I wish Mr Guterres all the best for the job, he has some significant ground to make up. The list of problems that he will find on his table are as formidable as they are complex. It will take some considerable spine to tackle them. His predecessor, the out going Ban Ki Moon has done remarkably well given the problems that he inherited and the ones that popped up whilst in office.


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