Portugal’s Antonio Guterres sworn as UN Secretary-General 

Antonio Guterres, former Portuguese Prime Minster, took the oath of the Secretary-General office of the United Nations. He is the 9th Chief of the UN and will take the office on January 1. Guterres took the oath in the presence of 193 members of the UN General Assembly.
Antonio Guterres, in his address to the General Assembly after the swearing-in, highlighted three key areas for the organisation—Peace, sustainable development and management reforms. He said, “The United Nations needs to be nimble, efficient and effective. It must focus more on delivery and less on process; more on people and less on bureaucracy,” He also stressed on achieving gender parity within the administration of the UN. The UN is yet to see the appointment of a female Secretary-General.

The swearing-in ceremony came after the tribute paid to UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon. Ban will step down on January 1, after serving two five-year terms as UN Chief. Present for the swearing-in ceremony were the top leaders of the UN and the world including Myanmar’s Aung San Suu Kyi.

Guterres served Portugal as Prime Minster from 1995 to 2002. He was then appointed as UN High Commissioner for Refugees from 2005 to 2015.

Sources: CBS, The Hindu

Image source: United Nations

Antonio Guterres to be sworn in as UN Secretary General tomorrow

According to reports in The Indian Express, Former Portuguese Prime Minister Antonio Guterres shall be sworn in tomorrow. Guterres, 67, would be succeeding Ban Ki-moon and will take over as the as the ninth chief of the world body.

Peter Thompson, President of the UN General Assembly will administer the Oath of Office at a 193-member special plenary meeting of the General Assembly. The Secretary General- designate is then expected to address the General Assembly.
The General Assembly unanimously appointed Antonio Guterres as the successor to Ban, after earlier in October, a 15-nation Security Council decided by acclamation to nominate his name to the Assembly for a final decision.
Guterres, who has also held the position of UN High Commissioner for Refugees remained the front-runner in the election to choose Ban’s successor despite growing calls by several UN States to nominate a woman for the post.
Ban Ki-moon’s second term as UN Secretary ends on December 31, after which Guterres is set to assume his role for a five-year term which begins on January 1, 2017.

Story source: The Indian Express, Business Standard

Image source: Livemint

World’s toughest to-do list at UN General Assembly

While the United Nations General Assembly in session in New York this week, 140 heads of state gather to discuss the agenda for this year, in 71st  annual assembly. In addition, this will be Ban Ki- Moon’s last meeting as the UN Secretary General. Also, Barrack Obama will attend the assembly and make his final address for the last time as the President of the Unites States. Here are the few instances where dialogue translated into peaceful resolution:

Curbing violent extremism:


Terrorism has cast a dark spell in quite a few parts of the world this year and the central forces are failing miserably to check what seems to be the greatest threat to mankind. In fact, while the General Assembly is in session on the East River in Manhattan, the city was bombed injuring 29 people, which is now being by the New York Police. On the same day, a man stabbed nine people at a mall in Minnesota; and a blast disrupted a Marine Corps charity run in New Jersey.

After these possible terror attacks, the security has been tightened around all the UN events. Europe, on the other hand, has seen multiple instances of infiltration by extremists as well as ISIS militants, and very frequently at that.In addition the recent attack on the Uri Army Base in Jammu and Kashmir, followed by Pakistan’s denying any involvement in the assault when India has concrete evidences against them, has been the talk of the town ever since. To top it up, anti democratic speeches, coupled by counter speeches, particularly by Nawaz Sharif and other international political dignitaries outweighed the forum’s agenda to avoid war and negotiate differences.

Foster peace in the ravaged Middle East


In what seems to be an undying remnant of the cold war, Syria has born the maximum brunt of the never-ending tension between the US and Russia. The issue, which started with Moscow’s intervention in Syria after a strenuous meeting between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Obama last year, has escalated out of proportion. This in response to the US strike on Syrian forces that the military had thought was an ISIS target. Moscow argued that the US was not ready to fully cooperate with them to fight militancy in the Middle-East, especially Syria, in an emergency Security Council meeting called by Russia after the US strike. Moscow also warned that the Syrian ceasefire might break down as a result of the assault.  

Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, the architects of the nascent ceasefire, are expected to meet and offer an update on its progress.

The world faces the worst global refugee crisis in a quarter century:


As per statistics offered by the United Nations, more than 21 million people are displaced today, half of them children, all of them in need of food, shelter, safety and livelihoods.  Waves of people fleeing countries such as Syria, South Sudan and Afghanistan have overwhelmed the international refugee system. This record- breaking number of destabilised refugees has not only overwhelmed European nations leading to redefining its political landscape, but has also increased the risk of terrorist infiltrators. Moreover, it is giving rise to of right-leaning anti-immigrant political parties in Europe and becoming a divisive US presidential campaign issue as well. Emphasizing on the unprecedented strain that the refugees have placed on the host countries, Donald Trump warned a crowd to “lock your doors” to stay safe from Syrian refugees, and in June added that “a lot of those people are ISIS.” However, Obama announced that that it will increase the number of refugees it absorbs from 85,000 this year to 110,000 in 2017. Apart from expanded refugee settlement, the US is also ready to provide them with new opportunities such as improved access to education and legal employment. In addition, the administration said it would give $11 million to a UN fund that helps countries accepting refugees.

Threat of nuclear weapons


This month, North Korea’s largest nuclear test has managed to raise quite a few eyebrows at various international forums, mostly because the area accounts for 40 per cent of the global economy. Barrack Obama is all set to discuss all major Asian issues with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang, besides North Korea’s nuclear tests.

Amongst the acoustics echoing in the grand hall that allows for shouts and screams to be heard by all, the ubiquitous issues of ending poverty, disease and hunger seem somewhat meek to be subjugated. However, the Assembly often plants the seeds for resolution of conflicts and hot button issues; even if it does not manage to provide absolute solutions.


India sets five point agenda with Pakistan as talks resume

Toughening its stand on discussion with Pakistan, India announced a five-point agenda submitted by the Indian envoy Gautam Bambawale to the Pakistan Foreign Ministry. The agenda is meant for the bilateral nation talks on terrorism plaguing the two countries.

New Delhi asked Islamabad to stop provoking violence and terrorism from their own country and in Jammu and Kashmir. They also spoke about refraining from cross-border terrorism, and the need of confining and holding trials for terrorists like Masood Azhar and Hafiz Saeed.

Dawood Ibrahim came up in the letter, when they mentioned the want of denying the Mumbai underworld leader a safe haven in their nation. Camps which instructed terrorists such as Bahadur Ali should also be closed.

India’s next proposal was the question of Pakistan vacating J&K. Pakistan has been illegally occupying parts of the state – known as POK (Pakistan Occupied Kashmir.) They also inquired on the progress of the 26/11 trial in Pakistan and its probe into the Pathankot airbase attack.

Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar’s wrote this letter to his Pakistani equal Aizaz Ahmed Chaudhary who on the other hand, offered no comment on the same. He simply stated that Prime Minister Modi crossed the “red line” when he mentioned Balochistan in his Independence Day speech, and would “forcefully” raise the Kashmir issue at the UN General Assembly in September.

Jaishankar also spoke about the history of violence initiated by Pakistan against India – from 1947, to 1965 and further in 1999. Pakistan’s leaders had made assurances of not allowing their country to be used for anti-India activities.

Speaking to The Indian Express about Modi’s statement – Indian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Vikas Swarup said that many people had conveyed messages to him thanking the Prime Minister for flagging their cause at the all-party meeting.
Swarup also said that Modi was moved by the messages of gratefulness to share it with the people of India in his speech.

Earlier this month, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon had condemned the killings in India-held Kashmir with the curfew imposed in the wake of terrorist Burhan Wani’s killing by security forces. According to a report in Dawn, he offered his offices if it were to be requested by both sides to ensure negotiation.

He hoped that all efforts would be made to avoid further violence, as at least 70 Kashmiri citizens have been killed and many more wounded in conflicts with security forces.

UN to hold first informal poll to decide next Chief

The United Nations Security Council will hold its first informal poll to decide on 12 candidates for the next UN Chief. A council of 15 members will vote in the informal poll.
The12 competing members include six men and six women. Eight members are from Eastern Europe, two from Latin America, one from Western Europe and one from Asia-Pacific. United Nations has never seen a woman Secretary General.
According to Economic Times, the UN General Assembly held a two-hour long webcast and heard the competing candidates make their case to be the next Secretary General. The candidates answered the questions put by the UN member states and even had an informal meeting with the Security Council behind the closed doors.
Britain’s UN Ambassador Matthew Rycroft said Wednesday, “The added transparency and all the other improvements in the process that the UK and others have advocated have increased the chances of the UN having a stronger next secretary-general than it otherwise would have had.”
ABC News reported that the 15 voting council members will receive ballots for each 12 competing candidates with three choices–encourage, discourage and no opinion.
Further, the results will be passed on to the ambassador from the candidate’s nation.
Several informal are likely to be secluded in the coming six months. One of these 12 candidates will succeed the present UN Chief, Ban Ki-Moon.

Pakistan mosque blast: Ban-ki Moon tells Pakistan to step up security


Image courtesy – navbharattimes.indiatimes.com

Karachi: United Nations Security General Ban-Ki Moon issued a statement on Saturday in which he condemned the blast at a Shia mosque in southern Pakistan and urged Pakistan to heighten its security measures to “protect religious minorities and combat terrorism”. He added that he was appalled by this act of violence against people on religious lines.

Sindh’s capital and Pakistan’s biggest city Karachi shut down on Saturday as it was proclaimed as a day of mourning the provincial government; hundreds took to the streets to grieve and protest. Identified mostly as Shiite Muslims, throngs of people came together to offer prayers at the funerals of the dead while others bore black flags and held rallies in demonstrations. The Shiites form a minority in Pakistan and have been victims of escalating sectarian violence in the last two years, mostly inflicted by extremist Sunni outfits.

The suicide bombing took place on Friday at Shikarpur province in  Sindh. The death toll has risen to 61 while at least 50 others have been seriously injured. The elusive Jandullah, a faction of the Pakistan Taliban has staked claim as perpetrators of the bombing. “We claim responsibility for attack on Shiites in Shikarpur very happily,” Ahmed Marwat, a Jandullah spokesperson said. The attack is being seen as the most crippling incident of sectarian violence in Pakistan since 2013.

To read more – http://www.smh.com.au/world/pakistans-shiite-muslims-mourn-61-killed-in-mosque-suicide-bombing-20150131-132vut.html

United Nations pushes for a political and military solution for Iraq

Picture Courtesy – jurist.law.pitt.edu

Baghdad : The United Nations Secretary- General Ban Ki-Moon’s Special Representative in Iraq and the head of the UN Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) Nickolay Mladenov said that the advance of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) in Iraq has been “stalled” but that the Iraqi government needs strong political and military action to thwart the militant organization.

In his video conversation with journalists, he said that, “For anyone to attempt to take over Baghdad would be extremely difficult.” However, he also added that a purely military solution is not possible. He stressed on the importance of finding a social, political solution in addition to the military solutions that are being evaluated presently.

He stressed on the importance of an Iraqi led offensive so as to ensure a sense of consensus amongst the various sections of the Iraqi people for a military and social solution to this crisis. Over 900 civilians have been killed in the fighting since June 5, when ISIS and its allies began their assault. The UNAMI and the UNHRC have said that updated figures put the number of civilian deaths at 757 in Nineveh, Salah al-Din and Diyala and the overall number of deaths at 1,300 and over 1200 injured.