Antonio Gueterres addressing the General Assembly December 12, 2016 - UN Photo - Eskinder Debebe
CAIRO – 12 September 2017: In preparation for the United Nations General Assembly’s (UNGA) 72nd session on September 12, the U.N. News Center interviewed Secretary General António Guterres to discuss the U.N. role in facing the increasing challenges in the world.
The U.N. chief summarized the top issues of concern for the organization, as a mechanism that brings countries together, as follows: climate change and its negative impact on sustainable development, terrorism, and gender inequality.
Guterres explained that global problems cannot be solved on a country-by-country basis, and that there is a pressing need to [adopt global solutions] to address these problems. According to Guterres, these global solutions mean that countries should forget their differences and their contradictions of interests and come together to put an [end to these crises, violence and conflicts] that are becoming more and more interlinked and [linked to global terrorism].
The solutions also require the U.N. to strengthen its efforts in diplomacy for peace, bring conflicting parties to understand that [nobody is winning and everybody’s losing] in the world’s devastating wars, ensure a globalized world that leaves no one behind and combine all the U.N. instruments to address the root causes of terrorism.
Guterres urged countries to focus on sustainable development and to invest in youth, as they are the hope and future. He highlighted that it is important to ingrain in them that [diversity is richness, not a threat]. He also expressed his hope that youth would push their societies, communities and countries to understand that [they need to have policies of social cohesion that allow everyone to feel that his/her identity is respected], but, at the same time, that they belong to the community as a whole.
VIDEO: Secretary-General António Guterres talks with U.N. News about issues such as climate change, terrorism and inequality, as well as the role of the 72-year-old organization.
Upon assuming office, Guterres promised to strengthen gender equality within the U.N. system as he believes [that organizations work much better when there is an equitable presence of both male and female colleagues]. This promise translated to appointing 19 women and 17 men in the U.N. Senior Management Group, which tops the organization.
In the interview, the chief committed that they [will have, at the end of my mandate at the level of the Assistant Secretaries-General and Under-Secretaries-General across the board, all over the Organization, full parity]. He also noted that the U.N. approved a road map for full equality by 2023 in a majority of the areas of the U.N., but for [some that have more specific difficulties: in 2028, full parity for international staff across the board].
On climate change, Guterres said that it is undeniable and that it is leading to the heat waves, dramatic floods and more frequent and intense natural disasters, like disasters in Portugal, Nepal, Sierra Leone, India and the U.S. He added that the Paris Agreement represents an important instrument to ensure that all countries commit to fighting climate change.
U.N. Chief’s life outside of the office:
Guterres said his political life and political attitude is influenced by two people, the first is Olof Palme and the other is Nelson Mandela. He described them as [clearly oriented for equality, for a progressive view of the world, equality between people and equality between societies].
U.N. Chief Antonio Guterres celebrating World Humanitarian Day – August 2017
The U.N. chief likes music and contemporary art, so he enjoys visiting New York galleries and exhibitions. He added that he loves to travel and to discover new cultures or to have contact with people.
In the interview, Guterres said that there are two history authors that he considers the best. One is French, Georges Duby and the other is British, A.J.P Taylor. He also considers Portuguese poets the best, especially Fernando Pessoa.
This article is part of a series of articles by Egypt Today to shed light on the U.N. General Assembly and its 72nd session launching on September 12.