"United Nations General Assembly and President Trump: What Keeps Secretary-General Guterres Up at Night?"




During a meeting on U.N. Reform called by U.S. President Trump, a complimentary U.N. Secretary-General Guterres started his welcome by asking what kept him up at night, giving his own answer: "bureaucracy." While his main theme was: "getting results rather than spending time on process," our newly-appointed leader is not new to process nor bureaucracy.

First, a slight diversion. The term "bureaucracy," was created from "bureau," literally meaning "office." Some indicate it started with the Hapsburg Empire in Vienna, where offices were offered first to needed essential required aides; then as the empire grew wider, to accommodate individuals with influence or ego trips by placing them in a symbolic office.

Now, in practical terms, as Chief Administrative Officer, according to the U.N. Charter, he has taken over not only the Secretariat executive body but is considered the first among equals in all chiefs of the U.N. system of Agencies, Funds, Programmes and "Others." This includes very dedicated, qualified, certified active staff, in addition to others expediently brought in -- mostly at higher levels, mainly to accommodate certain governments or outgoing Prime Ministers, Foreign Ministers in their ego trips, or a simple quest for an international "Laissez-Passer" to welcoming countries. "Never so many have done so little" has become a repeated reversal of Winston Churchill's war motto: "Never so few have accomplished so much."

Perhaps Mr. Guterres could start immediately, not by targeting dedicated junior hard-working staff, but target those who -- to use another famous quip -- do not ask what they could do for the U.N., but what would the U.N. do for them. It would be an initial positive indication, particularly as Mr. Guterres has given an initial impression that he has been too cautious in handling administrative issues, not just political ones.

It's about time for our distinguished leader to start by having a good night's sleep. Otherwise, it would be "Maņana," as our Mexican friends tell us actually means "not today, maybe, possibly, tomorrow."

Otherwise, to borrow from another Mexican quip: "Antonio, wake up -- it's time for Siesta!"