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United Nations - New UN Chief Wants Consensus But Faces Antagonistic Trump

Published on: December 31, 2016 07:00 PM
By: AP
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FILE- In this June 20, 2015 file photo, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres enters a family tent during a visit to the Midyat refugee camp in Mardin, southeastern Turkey, near the Syrian border. Guterres succeeds Ban Ki-moon, who lead the UN for ten years on Jan. 1, 2017. (AP Photo/Emrah Gurel, File)FILE- In this June 20, 2015 file photo, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres enters a family tent during a visit to the Midyat refugee camp in Mardin, southeastern Turkey, near the Syrian border. Guterres succeeds Ban Ki-moon, who lead the UN for ten years on Jan. 1, 2017. (AP Photo/Emrah Gurel, File)

United Nations - Antonio Guterres takes the reins of the United Nations on New Year’s Day, promising to be a “bridge-builder” but facing an antagonistic incoming U.S. administration led by Donald Trump who thinks the world body’s 193 member states do nothing except talk and have a good time.

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The former Portuguese prime minister and U.N. refugee chief told reporters after being sworn-in as secretary-general on Dec. 12 that he will engage all governments — “and, of course, also with the next government of the United States” — and show his willingness to cooperate on “the enormous challenges that we’ll be facing together.”

But Trump has shown little interest in multilateralism, which Guterres says is “the cornerstone” of the United Nations, and great attachment to the Republicans’ “America First” agenda.

So as Guterres begins his five-year term facing conflicts from Syria and Yemen to South Sudan and Libya and global crises from terrorism to climate change, U.S. support for the United Nations remains a question mark.

And it matters because the U.S. is a veto-wielding member of the U.N. Security Council and pays 22 percent of the U.N.‘s regular budget and 25 percent of its peacekeeping budget.

Immediately after the United States allowed the Security Council to condemn Israeli settlements in the West Bank on Dec. 23 in a stunning rupture with past practice, Trump warned in a tweet: “As to the U.N., things will be different after Jan. 20th,” the day he takes office.

Trump followed up three days later with another tweet questioning its effectiveness. “The United Nations has such great potential but right now it is just a club for people to get together, talk and have a good time. So sad!”

John Bolton, a conservative Republican and former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, said in an interview with The Associated Press that Guterres would be well advised “especially given the incoming Trump administration” to follow the model of his predecessor, Ban Ki-moon, and do what member governments want.

FILE- In this Dec. 12, 2016 file photo, current United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, left, clasps hands with U.N. Secretary-General designate Antonio Guterres after Guterres was sworn in at U.N. headquarters. Guterres begins his term on Sunday, Jan. 1, 2017. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig, File)FILE- In this Dec. 12, 2016 file photo, current United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, left, clasps hands with U.N. Secretary-General designate Antonio Guterres after Guterres was sworn in at U.N. headquarters. Guterres begins his term on Sunday, Jan. 1, 2017. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig, File)

If he tries to follow what Ban’s predecessor, Kofi Annan, did as secretary-general and try to be the world’s top diplomat and what some called “a secular pope,” Bolton said, “I think especially in the Trump administration, he would run into big trouble very quickly.”

Guterres has made clear that his top priority will be preventing crises and promoting peace.

He has said there is enormous difficulty in solving conflicts, a lack of “capacity” in the international community to prevent conflicts, and the need to develop “the diplomacy for peace,” which he plans to focus on.

Guterres has said he will also strive to deal with the inequalities that globalization and technological progress have helped deepen, creating joblessness and despair especially among youth.

“Today’s paradox is that despite greater connectivity, societies are becoming more fragmented. More and more people live within their own bubbles, unable to appreciate their links with the whole human family,” he said after his swearing-in.

Guterres said the values enshrined in the U.N. Charter that should define the world that today’s children inherit — peace, justice, respect, human rights, tolerance and solidarity — are threatened, “most often by fear.”

“Our duty to the peoples we serve is to work together to move from fear of each other, to trust in each other, trust in the values that bind us, and trust in the institutions that serve and protect us,” he said. “My contribution to the United Nations will be aimed at inspiring that trust.”

Guterres won the U.N.‘s top job after receiving high marks from almost every diplomat for his performance in the first-ever question-and-answer sessions in the General Assembly for the 13 candidates vying to replace Ban, whose second five-year term ends at midnight on Dec. 31.

FILE- In this June 19, 2016 file photo, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres shakes hands with a Syrian child during his visit to Khaldeh, south of Beirut, Lebanon. Guterres begins a five year term at the helm of the United Nations on January 1, 2017. (AP Photo/Bilal Hussein, File)FILE- In this June 19, 2016 file photo, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres shakes hands with a Syrian child during his visit to Khaldeh, south of Beirut, Lebanon. Guterres begins a five year term at the helm of the United Nations on January 1, 2017. (AP Photo/Bilal Hussein, File)

In an interview during his campaign with three journalists, Guterres said the role of secretary-general should be “an honest broker, a consensus builder” who engages as much as possible, in many circumstances discreetly.

“It’s not just to have a personal agenda, because it would be regrettable or ineffective, or to appear in the limelight. No. On the contrary, it’s to act with humility to try to create the conditions for member states that are the crucial actors in any process to be able to come together and to overcome their differences,” he said.

Whether the Trump administration will join Guterres and U.N. efforts to tackle what he sees as “a multiplication of new conflicts” and the myriad problems on the global agenda remains to be seen.

Trump’s choice as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley who is the governor of South Carolina, has a reputation as a conciliator, which could be very useful especially in dealing with the Security Council and the four other permanent veto-wielding members — Russia, China, Britain and France, all of whom have their own national agendas.

But she will be taking instructions from the president.

Richard Grenell, who served as U.S. spokesman at the United Nations during President George W. Bush’s administration and has been working with Trump’s transition team, downplayed the prospect that Trump will withdraw from or even disregard the United Nations.

He said in an AP interview earlier this month that Trump is talking about reforming the U.N. and other international organizations so “they live up to their ideals.”

Guterres also wants to reform the United Nations to make it “nimble, efficient and effective.” He said “it must focus more on delivery and less on process, more on people and less on bureaucracy,” and ensure that the more than 85,000 U.N. staff working in 180 countries are being used effectively.



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Read Comments (8)  —  Post Yours »

1

 Dec 31, 2016 at 07:21 PM Anonymous Says:

The UN is a worthless, anti-Semitic, hypocritical organization. The US should ignore it at worst, and defund and expel it from its territory at best.

2

 Dec 31, 2016 at 08:30 PM grandbear Says:

It's time to kick the UN. out of the USA. and let them set up camp in any moslem nation where the women have to go dressed in burkas , no liquor. no women on the streets .

3

 Dec 31, 2016 at 11:15 PM TrumpISprez Says:

I say first thing the UN should recognize is that Islam is a religion of hate and blood . That's the source of 90% of the worlds problem

4

 Jan 01, 2017 at 09:26 AM elyeh Says:

Despite his past and that of the UN I hope he can become Ohev Shalom, V'rodef Shalom, Ohev Es Habrieos....

5

 Jan 01, 2017 at 10:09 AM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #4  
elyeh Says:

Despite his past and that of the UN I hope he can become Ohev Shalom, V'rodef Shalom, Ohev Es Habrieos....

Please. Don't hold your breath.

6

 Jan 01, 2017 at 12:15 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #5  
Anonymous Says:

Please. Don't hold your breath.

Please don't believe the possibility of entries 1-3

7

 Jan 01, 2017 at 01:37 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #3  
TrumpISprez Says:

I say first thing the UN should recognize is that Islam is a religion of hate and blood . That's the source of 90% of the worlds problem

"Islam is a religion of hate..." How many Yidden were killed by Muslims? Hoh many by Christians. 10 to 1 or more likely 100 to 1. Impeach Trump.

8

 Jan 01, 2017 at 09:41 PM TrumpISprez Says:

Reply to #7  
Anonymous Says:

"Islam is a religion of hate..." How many Yidden were killed by Muslims? Hoh many by Christians. 10 to 1 or more likely 100 to 1. Impeach Trump.

Yes Christians are soaked in blood . But that was years ago . Nowadays in the 21st century Islam became the religion of hate .Times changed my friend . Over the past 50 years how much Jewish blood was spilled by Muslims verse Christians . Let's not go back into the stone ages . We live in the 21st century .
And frankly I not sure why you say trump should get impeached. And I certainly hope that an ohev yisroel like trump sticks around for the full 8 years

9

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