In General Assembly resolution A/RES/71/4 of 17 October 2016, the Member States appointed by acclamation the former Prime Minister of Portugal, Mr. António Guterres, as the ninth Secretary-General of the United Nations. Mr. Guterres took the Oath of Office on 12 December 2016 and officially entered the office on 1 January 2017. As the new UN leader, he replaced Mr. Ban Ki-moon.
This was the first time that the selection process was made public. Civil society as well as UN Member States had insisted on more clarity and transparency. Previously, any discussions about the candidates and their selection had happened behind closed doors. Now Member States continued to push for an open process by presenting several requests to the Security Council and the General Assembly. Subsequently, the President of the 70th session of the General Assembly, Mr. Mogens Lykketoft, worked to improve the transparency of the selection and appointment process. His successor, Mr. Peter Thomson, supported this goal by putting up a public page on the General Assembly President’s website with information on the selection process and the candidates’ profiles.
This report by the Secretary-General provides a comprehensive analysis of the discussions on gender parity within the United Nations system. Conclusions are drawn from 65 UN entities reporting under the System-Wide Action Plan on Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women, in the context of the gender-responsive implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
The document lays a foundation for accountability of the Secretary-General as well as heads of United Nations agencies and programmes, and it presents a coordinated approach for consistently monitoring gender balance.
Based on discussions and commitments in this document, the UN has made significant system-wide progress towards the achievement of gender balance, especially in top positions. On 13 September 2017, the Secretary-General launched the System-Wide Strategy on Gender Parity, providing a strong institutional framework and road map to advance gender participation and inclusion within the 2030 Agenda. By January 2020, parity was attained within the Secretary-General’s Senior Management Group and among the resident coordinators, top officials who lead UN teams in 129 countries – a remarkable first-time achievement in the history of the Organization.
The Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration is the first intergovernmental agreement prepared under the auspices of the United Nations on a common approach to international migration in all its dimensions, including humanitarian, developmental and human-rights-related aspects.
Migration can create significant risks for individuals and communities in countries of origin, transit and destination. To address the challenges of large movements of refugees and migrants, the General Assembly decided in September 2016 to work towards a global instrument by adopting the New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants (A/RES/71/1).
The process to develop the Compact started in April 2017. The draft text was finalized in July 2018 and adopted during the Intergovernmental Conference to Adopt the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration that took place in Marrakech, Morocco, 10-11 December 2018.
The non-legally binding Compact is grounded in values of state sovereignty, responsibility-sharing, non-discrimination and human rights. It comprises 23 objectives and is framed consistent with target 10.7 of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in which states commit to facilitate migration through planned and well-managed policies.
The Sustainable Development Goals Report 2019 was released to detail the progress made since the adoption of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The year 2019 marked the end of the first five-year cycle of the implementation phase, and this report highlights both the progress made as well as the areas in need of urgent collective attention. The main areas where it calls for increased action fall under the Sustainable Development Goals of No Poverty (SDG 1), Zero Hunger (SDG 2), Quality Education (SDG 4), Reduced Inequalities (SDG 10) and Climate Action (SDG 13).
The report, prepared by the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA), was presented to Member States in preparation for the High-Level Political Forum for Sustainable Development (HLPF) of July 2019, and is available to the public in an interactive format on DESA’s website.
On 31 December 2019, the World Health Organization (WHO) learned about a cluster of pneumonia cases of unknown cause in the Hubei Province of China. On 9 January 2020, WHO reported that Chinese authorities had determined that the outbreak was caused by a novel (new) coronavirus (nCoV). Only a few weeks later, on 11 March 2020, WHO declared the coronavirus outbreak a global pandemic.
On 2 April 2020, the General Assembly adopted the first resolution related to the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) in which it recognized the unprecedented effects of this pandemic, including the severe disruption to societies and economies as well as the devastating impact on the livelihoods of people around the world. It emphasized that a global response based on unity, solidarity and multilateral cooperation was required.
To contain the spread of COVID-19, in-person plenary meetings were suspended and this resolution was adopted through the silence procedure. On 27 March 2020, the General Assembly adopted decision 74/544 that established a “Procedure for taking decisions of the General Assembly during the COVID-19 pandemic.” It authorized the President of the General Assembly to circulate, after consultation with the General Committee, draft resolutions and decisions to all Member States under a silence procedure of at least 72 hours. If Member States did not raise any objections during this time, the draft text was considered adopted.