- Antonio Guterres is handed over the reins of the United Nations while the world community, in the face of many challenges today, hope the new chief of the global body to resolve world problems more appropriately.
As the UN new secretary general who replaces Ban Ki-moon, Guterres should try to tackle global issues such as the conflicts in Syria, European migrant crisis as well as heightening terrorist activities across the world.
And the former United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, presumably aware of the world sensitive challenges, has declared that putting an end to Syria's civil war is his top priority, a promise that, if fulfilled, is going to constitute a big achievement in the political record of the newly-elected secretary general.
'I believe it is the international community's first priority to be able to end this conflict,' Guterres said, referring to the crisis in Syria.
The United Nations and the organizations working with it, run an array of humanitarian programs to foster global economic and social development and the global body plays a crucial role as well in the political developments of the international community.
Presently, with the political and military overwhelming crises in the Middle East, and the dire situation causing a variety of irreparable consequences to the international community, the role the United Nations can assume to achieve a general consensus among world countries and its rapid reaction against future crises tend to be in the spotlight more than ever.
As head of the UN Secretariat, the secretary general shall act as the chief administrative officer 'in all meetings of the General Assembly, of the Security Council, of the Economic and Social Council and the Trusteeship Council, and shall perform other functions as are entrusted to him by these organs', according to Article 98 of the UN Charter.
As stipulated in Article 99 of the Charter, the Secretary General may notify the Security Council on matters which 'in their opinion may threaten the maintenance of international peace and security' and ask for the Security Council to meet. But the UN chief has been spared no role in the decision-making process of the Council dominated by five permanent member states, namely the United States, Russia, China, Britain and France that directly affect all the decisions made by the body on global issues.
Yet, despite the vagueness of the UN Charter in defining the position by the secretary general and the rather ceremonial role given to him, ground seems to be prepared for the newly-elected UN chief to play a more constructive role in tackling challenges faced by the world today.
Following liberation of the Syrian city of Aleppo, a former Daesh terrorists' stronghold, and the convergence between Iran, Russia and Turkey to guarantee ceasefire in the country, the prospects for an international consensus and moving towards achieving an enduring peace seem to be quite bright.
Now is the time for Guterres to use all in its capacity as the UN chief and play a constructive role in future Syria talks.
Rising terrorist activities in the world constitutes another challenge faced by Guterres.
Bitter terrorist incidents last month plunged many countries into critical conditions putting high on the international agenda the need for fighting terrorist groups like Daesh, also known as ISIS, and al-Nusra Front.
And the urgency for mounting a global fight against terrorists is felt much more, in the wake of recent advancements by Iraqi military and popular forces in the city of Mosul inflicting great damage on the terrorists; the terrorists now are increasingly looking for a chance to retaliate.
The Europe migrant crisis and the big wave of the war refugees abandoning their homes in the Middle East to find a safe haven in Europe and the deplorable conditions these refugees face in the temporary camps they are sheltered in are another problems need to be appropriately addressed.
It is expected that Guterres by relying on his experiences as a former UN High Commissioner for Refugees find a more efficient solution to the global problem.
Africa establishes another challenge for the United Nations and its newly-elected chief. The global body has long been involved in addressing diverse issues in the continent.
Presently, however, Guterres needs to do something to overcome the mistrust shaped in the African countries towards the United Nations and its activities there. There are several reports suggesting that some UN aid workers and peacekeepers have abused women and children in exchange for providing them with food and drinking water.
Unfortunately, Many such crimes have been left unpunished and the secretary general needs to followed up the cases.
Under Ban Ki-moon, representatives of 195 UN member states adopted the Paris agreement within the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.
The major agreement sets out a global action plan to put the world on track to avoid dangerous climate change by limiting global warming to well below 2°C.
But US President-elect Donald Trump has vowed to unilaterally renege on the international agreement and to withdraw the United Nations from the climate pact.
The US withdrawal from the agreement, if realized, is going to pay a heavy blow to the UN climate deal as the country is among the main producers of the greenhouse gases.
Guterres may be able to stop Washington from taking more measures to undermine the Paris agreement as by overlooking the climate pact the world could wait for bad climate consequences.
Antonio Guterres, a former prime minister of Portugal, was appointed the UN secretary general by acclamation. But we should wait and see how he is going to use his political leverage to steer the United Nations and address the world issues.
The secretary-general “must work as a convenor, facilitator, as a mediator, as a bridge builder, an honest broker and try to bring people together”, he told FRANCE 24.