António Guterres and the 22nd Congress of the Socialist International

Andreas Bummel, 11. October 2016
António Guterres in 2012, image: Public Domain

António Guterres in 2012, image: Public Domain

Following an extraordinary effort of civil society, numerous UN member states and the President of the 70th UN General Assembly to improve the process to select the UN Secretary-General, the UN Security Council officially nominated António Guterres for the position on 6 October 2016.

António Guterres looks back on a long political career. In particular, he served as Prime Minister of Portugal from 1995 to 2002. In a vision statement of 4 April 2016 the former UN High Commissioner for Refugees pointed out that "the success of the UN and the international community lies in our common commitment to our common values. The UN must be proud of its diversity. A diversity that only enriches the strength of the expression of our common humanity."

Whether or not a far-reaching reform of the UN and the system of global governance will be successful in the coming years and decade, much will depend on the initiative and position of the new Secretary-General.

Those who advocate a UN Parliamentary Assembly wonder what position Guterres might have on this particular topic. As far as I can tell, there is no public statement on the matter.

Interestingly, however, during his term as President of the Socialist International from 1999 to 2005, the 22nd Congress of the party network convened in São Paulo in 2003 adopted a document titled "Governance in a global society" which elaborated on the subject:

Better structured democratic control and accountability are needed if the world’s democratic deficit is to be seriously addressed. At some point, contemplation of a UN Parliamentary Assembly will be needed. Such a development should be supported by the gradual emergence of truly global citizenship, underpinned by rights drawn from the 1948 Declaration on Human Rights and the 1966 Covenants on Civil and Political Rights and Economic and Social Rights.

and further:

Such an assembly should be more than just another UN institution. It would need to become a building block of a new, democratically legitimate world order. ... Every effort needs to be made by the large party communities to attain the goal of a UN Parliamentary Assembly...

Although it cannot be assumed that this paper necessarily reflects the views of the then President of the Socialist International - and even less his thinking now, 13 years later -, it may indicate that he might be accessible relative to this important reform proposal.