António Guterres - live commentary from the General Assembly hearing

From 12 - 14 April 2016, candidates for the position of UN Secretary-General are taking part in informal dialogues at the General Assembly, as provided for by Resolution 69/321.  The 1 for 7 Billion campaign welcomes this historic breakthrough and the additional transparency and scrutiny that comes with it.

Rather than a complete record, the following commentary picks up on statements pertinent to 1 for 7 Billion's campaign proposals.

Tuesday 12 April: live from the General Assembly, New York

15:00: António Guterres (Portugal)

15:08: António Guterres calls for a "surge" in diplomacy for peace, and sees this as part of the "good offices" of the Secretary-General. The Secretary-General should be a "convener" and a "catalyst"; an "honest broker" for peace. 

15:12: The UN's Secretary-General must respect gender parity when making appointments, says Guterres. He also calls for better geographic representation in appointments. The 1 for 7 Billion campaign holds that merit should override considerations of region and gender in all UN appointments

15:16: The Non-Aligned Movement raises the issue of geographic balance in the UN Secretariat, suggesting that some countries have had a monopoly on certain key posts. What measures would Guterres put in place to ensure his independence if appointed as Secretary-General? 

15:20: Speaking for the G77, Thailand also remarks that some countries have been said to have a monopoly on certain posts. Thailand asks specifically how the representation of developing countries in the Secretariat could be improved. 

15:24: Arguing that the UN is "facing a management challenge", the EU asks how Guterres' professional background will enable him to respond to these managerial challenges as Secretary-General. 

15:26: Guterres emphasises the need for “clear and transparent criteria for Secretariat appointments, as well as a "roadmap" to achieve gender parity and geographic balance.

15:27: Guterres responds to the question of his independence: "I can’t avoid pressure, but I can resist pressure. Independence is not a matter of measures taken, but of attitude".  

15:38: Uganda, on behalf of the African group, asks Guterres for his views on a single, non-renewable term. 1 for 7 Billion's policy paper makes the case for why a single term would promote independent leadership from the next SG. 

15:42: Luxembourg asks how Guterres would use his "good offices" role as next Secretary-General.  

15:36: The Nordic countries raise the issue of civil society involvement: how would Guterres safeguard the involvement of civil society in UN activities? 

15:50: Guterres reiterates his point that independence is an attitude. Will he answer the African group's question about a single term? 

15:51: The Secretary-General should be a convener for dialogue, especially between the General Assembly and Security Council, says Guterres. The SG would not "replace" the Assembly or Council. 

15:55: Guterres states that the role of the Secretary-General is to "serve the international community". The SG should be "humble". 

15:58: On the issue of civil society, Guterres notes that he has supported civil society access in his role as UN High Commissioner for Refugees. He is "deeply committed" to a role for civil society. 

16:07: The Maldives notes that the Secretariat today does not reflect the diversity of the UN. Which specific measures would Guterres take as Secretary-General to ensure a transparent and fair selection process for his staff? 

16:13: Poland states that the Eastern European group is the most underrepresented group in the UN system--especially at the highest level of Secretary-General.  

16:15: The United Kingdom emphasizes that it is looking for a strong leader to play the role of Secretary-General, one who will help to set the UN’s purpose. If the UN must be made “fit for purpose”, then what "purpose" should the UN be "fit for"? 

16:27: Responding to Poland's remarks, Guterres states that the decision of which SG candidate to appoint is up to Member States. He emphasizes that if appointed Secretary-General, he would do everything in his power to make sure there is regional parity in his appointments.  

16:36: Spain asks Guterres for examples of his crisis management skills, based on his professional experience.  

16:42: Japan asks Guterres about his work as UN High Commissioner for Refugees: What does Guterres consider his most important achievement as head of UNHCR?   

16:53: Angola and Algeria raise the issue of the Secretary-General's relationship with the Security Council, asking how Guterres envisions this relationship.  

16:02: Guterres emphasises that he will not compare himself to past Secretaries-General, but that he will maintain the same independence he displayed as High Commissioner for Refugees. 

17:07: As Secretary-General, Guterres would use his power to bring issues to the attention of the Security Council whenever he thought it necessary, and in an independent way. 

17:15: In concluding his remarks, Guterres states that the Secretary-General and the Security Council must have a clear, open dialogue. 

17:26: Guterres answers questions from the press in a media stakeout.  

17:29: Guterres is asked about financing for his campaign to be Secretary-General. He explains that the Portuguese government is funding his travel, and other logistical expenses. 

17:31: Asked about his top priority as Secretary-General, Guterres states: "prevention, prevention, prevention".  

Photo: UN High Commissioner Launches "State of the World's Refugees" ReportCopyright UN Photo/Mark Garten