Antonio Guterres took the reins of the United Nations on New Year’s Day, promising to be a “bridge-builder” but facing an antagonistic incoming US administration led by Donald Trump who thinks the world body’s 193 member states do nothing except talk and have a good time.
In his first message on his first day as United Nations Secretary-General, António Guterres appeals to the world for one shared new year resolution – to “put peace first” in the year 2017.
The former Portuguese prime minister and UN refugee chief told reporters after being sworn-in as secretary-general on December 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 a 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, US support for the United Nations remains a question mark.
And it matters because the US is a veto-wielding member of the UN Security Council and pays 22 percent of the UN’s regular budget and 25 percent of its peacekeeping budget.
AP, United Nations