Fighting Poverty, Stabilizing Peace

The United Nations is more needed today than at any time since the Cold War. It is the only place on Earth where any nation, state or government can talk to any other nation, state or government. Without this simple prerequisite, there is no hope of achieving the three common objectives for all humanity: sustainable and inclusive development, conflict resolution and sustainable peace.

Today, more than ever, we need the UN with its inclusiveness, its slow but steady consensus building and, more than anything, we need to increase its efficiency and reinforce its main projects, objectives and strategic goals.

Probably no one applying for the post of UN Secretary-General is motivated by the wish to run the Organization. But without that work, nothing else is possible -- no UN purpose or goal can be achieved. And that is why, in my view, the most important job of the Secretary-General is to make the organization work. With 193 Member States, an elaborate bureaucracy, and a polyglot work force, this can be a challenging task. There are many good ideas for management reform worth pursuing. But, if reform was easy, it would already have happened.

The future Secretary-General has to run the organization that exists, not the one he or she wishes existed. He or she has to be a hands-on manager.

The United Nations was created to safeguard peace and security and this remains its central mission.

Working closely with the Security Council, the next Secretary-General should focus on enhancing the UN's role in peace negotiations. This means selecting good mediators and negotiators and giving them all the support they need. Peacekeepers must adhere to the highest standards of personal conduct. Furthermore, the UN should not deploy troops from a troop-contributing country whose armed forces have a recent record of human-rights abuses.

The Secretary-General must be candid with the Security Council about what the UN can and cannot do. Too often, United Nations missions are over-ambitious and under-resourced. Such missions harm staff morale, cost lives and damage the credibility of the United Nations.

Global development has been at the top of the UN agenda for a long time. It is an instrument for fighting poverty, but also essential in conflict prevention and in stabilizing peace. For all the progress that has been made, too many people have been left behind. This is morally wrong but it is also a threat to peace and security. In the Fall of 2015, the UN General Assembly approved and accepted its Agenda for Sustainable Development until 2030. In its carefully chosen and well-presented 17 Sustainable Development Goals, it covers all important aspects of a successful progress of the World in the next 15 years. The goals create a synergy without overlapping or repeating themselves. There are only two concepts that are consistently appearing in practically all the 17 SDGs: inclusiveness and sustainability. Whatever will be achieved, should be achieved "for all" and should be inclusive; whatever will be attained should be sustainable -- should last. To make the achievements of the SDGs sustainable, to make them permanent, requires an institution that will provide a stable context of values against which each country can measure itself. In fulfilling the 2030 SDGs Agenda, those two objectives will be the key task of the UN.

As we witness human suffering on a scale not seen since World War II, the effectiveness of the UN's humanitarian agencies must be a top priority of the next Secretary-General. The response to multiple crises of today's proportions, complexity and range requires commitment and multilevel partnerships between everyone involved -- the UN, member states, NGOs and the business community.

There are two litmus tests of the strength of a society when it comes to human rights: how it treats minority groups and how it treats women. The ethnic, racial and religious minorities are the first step and the first test. If they are oppressed, persecuted and discriminated against, it is a sure sign that the majority also enjoys poor human-rights standards. By quality protection of minority rights, the human-rights standards for everybody in a given society are being improved.

The position of women is the best and easiest way to understand the problem all our societies have with human rights. By improving the position of women, we can do the most to improve our societies, our living standards and our human condition.

Women are crucial in fighting poverty, providing effective humanitarian relief, targeting development assistance and cooperation, improving the condition of children, improving school attendance, conflict resolution and building sustainable peace. Their position should be a major guiding light for all different areas of the UN activity.

In 70 years, the United Nations has made for a more peaceful and prosperous world. But, there is still war and our planet faces enormous challenges.

The next Secretary-General has to build on what the United Nations has accomplished and make it stronger, guided by the idealism of the UN's founders but realistic about what the Organization can do.

This post is part of a series produced by The Huffington Post regarding the selection and appointment of the next Secretary-General of the United Nations. A new Secretary-General will take office on January 1, 2017, and each of the declared candidates for the position was invited to participate in this blog series. The President of the General Assembly noted that, this year, the selection process will have more transparency than ever before. The declared candidates for the position are listed by the UN here. To see all the posts in the series, visit here.

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