UN chief António Guterres on Thursday called for a “renewed commitment to a rules-based global order” and to the organization he leads, highlighting his key themes for discussion during the High-Level week of the General Assembly, beginning on Monday.
In a press conference for journalists based at UN Headquarters in New York, the Secretary-General said that with 84 Heads of State and 44 Heads of Government taking part next week, it showed the UN was still “the world’s indispensable forum for international cooperation”.
One year on from his launch of a system-wide gender parity strategy, Mr. Guterres told journalists that team leaders in the field are now made up of an equal number of men and women, and that there have never been as many female heads and deputy heads of peace operations in UN history, adding:
“Our aim is to shift the long-standing power imbalances that have held the United Nations back, and to elicit the best contributions from all the staff to take the Organization forward. And such a shift will also help to address sexual harassment.”
He said that the UN’s focus was “on prevention, responding rapidly to allegations, supporting victims through their trauma and ensuring accountability for perpetrators.”
Mr. Guterres told journalists that sexual harassment cases will be fast-tracked and investigated by a new, specialized team within the Office of Internal Oversight Services (five of the six team members are women) and that, since February, a 24-hour hotline has been receiving and responding to calls about sexual harassment and abuses of power, within the UN system.
So far, over 16,000 staff have taken a new mandatory training course on sexual harassment and, in October, the UN will launch a staff survey on this problem, in order to get the best possible understanding of how prevalent it is within the Organization.
The press briefing was also an opportunity for Mr. Guterres to outline three key meetings that he will be convening in the coming days.
The first, on Monday, will be the opportunity for the UN Chief to launch a new strategy called “Youth2030”, as well as an initiative named “Generation Unlimited”, both designed to help young people secure quality education and decent jobs, and contribute to preventing radicalization.
At the second, also on Monday, Mr. Guterres will launch his strategy for financing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
A surge in investment for the Sustainable Development Goals is needed, as well as a systemic change in the way the world does business, and a clampdown on illicit capital flows such as money laundering and tax evasion.
Finally, the Secretary-General announced his involvement in Tuesday’s meeting of leaders of Member States and regional organizations to strengthen UN Peacekeeping, as part of the Action for Peacekeeping (A4P) initiative.
The meeting comes at a time of increasing threats against peacekeepers, with peacekeeping fatalities at their highest level in a generation.
Mr. Guterres concluded by sharing his overriding concern that multilateralism is under attack from many directions, precisely when it is most needed.