UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres laid out his case for a second five-year term to member states, calling on the world body to act as a catalyst and a platform for more inclusive, networked and effective forms of multilateralism. Making his vision statement in the UN General Assembly hall, Guterres said that he was offering a humble approach to deal with today’s multiple challenges, as an honest broker and bridge builder, focused on solutions. The former Portuguese prime minister who went on to run the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) for over a decade, before being appointed to the UN’s top job in October 2016, is currently the only official candidate for the position, having being nominated by the Portugal government. Seven individuals have nominated themselves as challengers to the incumbent, including former Ecuadoran president Rosalia Arteaga, but none of them has the necessary backing of a UN member states. On Tuesday, General Assembly President Volkan Bozkir told a news conference that the rule was that an applicant can only become a candidate when a letter signed jointly by the presidents of the assembly and the Security Council was sent to all member states. Guterres, whose current five-year term ends on Dec 31, was nominated by Portugal, his home country. “We are at a fragile moment, and it is absolutely clear to me that today’s complex challenges can only inspire a humble approach,” Guterres, 71, told the UN General Assembly. He circulated his vision statement for a second five-year term in March, but informal interactive dialogue was his opportunity to share a more personal vision of why he was offering himself as a candidate once more. The informal dialogues were introduced during the last selection process in the UN General Assembly, with the idea of allowing candidates to present their views and take questions from a wide range of representatives of the global community, including civil society, establishing a new standard of transparency. Following informal dialogues with member states, the Security Council will begin its selection process by June, although there could be further dialogues if other candidates emerge. Under the UN Charter, the Security Council makes its recommendation for filling the post, to the General Assembly, and since 1996, the council recommendation has been unanimous. The assembly formally appoints the secretary-general through a resolution, which in the past has been submitted by the president of the General Assembly and adopted by consensus. Outlining his initial motivation for running five years ago, Guterres said he sought to dedicate his energy to working on addressing the root causes of war, underdevelopment and violence and creating conditions in which people could prosper and thrive, as both the right thing to do, and also the smart thing to do. He said that the failures of globalization, growing inequality, and the man-made destruction of nature and the climate, had made him realize a renewed social contract was imperative. “More and more people live within their own echo chambers. They are lured by misinformation, populism, extremism, xenophobia and racism,” he said. DIPLOMACY FOR PEACE “We live in a kind of post-enlightenment era that has nurtured irrational, even nihilistic belief systems, spreading fear, denying science and truth.” A new type of geostrategic fracture, or Cold War, had to be avoided at all costs, he said, and the best antidote, lies in rekindling a shared commitment to fundamental values. The next secretary-general needed to maximise the unique convening power of the UN, to redouble efforts for the surge in diplomacy for peace, to foster trust, build confidence, identify areas of convergence, mediate in good faith and constantly bring people together,” he told member states, from the General Assembly Hall podium in New York. Championing those who have traditionally not been offered a seat at the world’s main diplomatic table, he said that civil society, cities, the private sector and young people, were essential voices that must be heard. Injustice and suffering had to be faced up to and the power dynamics of resource and technology distribution, reckoned with, he said. The COVID-19 pandemic has been a stark reminder of the limitations of collective action, as well as it’s potential, when it comes to vaccines or acting in solidarity with those underserved or struggling communities and countries. In a note of optimism, he said it was now “up to us, to rise to the test of this pivotal moment for our future. I strongly believe this momentum is unstoppable.” He offered his services for another term as a secretary-general who would be at the service of all member states equally and with no agenda except that of the Charter. Guterres said he would continue to feel every day, the acute responsibilities of the office, putting human dignity and peace with nature, including for future generations, the core of our common work and endeavour.