When It Comes to Vacations, We’re All U.N. Secretaries-General Now

When It Comes to Vacations, We’re All U.N. Secretaries-General Now
U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres attends a joint press conference with Austrian President Alexander Van der Bellen, in Vienna, Austria, May 11, 2022 (AP photo by Theresa Wey).

In June 1949, The New York Times notified its readers that United Nations Secretary-General Trygve Lie was “leaving the United States for a six-week vacation in Scandinavia.” U.N. officials’ vacations rarely, if ever, attract such coverage in the Times these days. And those currently toiling in Turtle Bay can only dream about taking such a long break.

Current Secretary-General Antonio Guterres tried to take a vacation in July. His aides say that he spent most of it hashing out an international bargain to restart Ukrainian grain exports via the Black Sea. He cannot have been surprised. Swedish diplomat Jan Eliasson, , for instance, said via email that he himself only “had a maximum of 10 to 12 vacation days a year” while serving as U.N. deputy secretary-general from 2012 to 2016.

“For a Swede used to spending at least a summer month in the countryside to stock up on sunshine for a long winter,” Eliasson added wryly, “this was an unusual and trying experience.”

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