UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres did not appoint Indonesia's Joko Widodo as successor

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YouTube videos with tens of thousands of views falsely claim that Indonesian President Joko Widodo, popularly known as Jokowi, has been appointed United Nations Secretary-General by the incumbent Antonio Guterres. There are no official reports to support this claim. The top role is not appointed by the current secretary-general, but by the UN's 193 member states on the recommendation of the Security Council.

"Appointed by Antonio Guterres, Jokowi is ready to become the next UN Secretary-General || European Union," says the Indonesian-language title of a YouTube video , posted on January 13, 2023.

The nine-minute video has been viewed more than 151,000 times.

In the video, a narrator says that Guterres "supports Indonesia in assuming the position of UN chairman", while "heads of state and political observers" believe Jokowi is capable of doing the job.

Screenshot of the false YouTube video, taken on January 19, 2023

Similar videos were shared on YouTube here and here, and on Facebook here and here, racking up more than 43,000 views.

While Jokowi -- whose term as Indonesian president is due to end in October 2024 -- has been touted as a possible future UN secretary-general, he has not been appointed by Guterres as his successor.

Appointment of UN secretary-general

There have been no official reports about Jokowi taking the position of secretary-general or being nominated as a candidate, as of February 7, 2023.

Guterres faced no competition for the job when the UN Security Council voted to grant him a second five-year term in 2021.

According to Article 97 of the UN Charter, "The Secretary-General shall be appointed by the General Assembly upon the recommendation of the Security Council."

The UN's General Assembly is made up of its 193 member states.

Discussion around who gets the top job is largely kept behind closed doors, but Guterres's appointment for his first term in 2016 saw increased transparency.

There was unprecedented campaigning, debates and open hearings, and candidates were for the first time asked to submit a formal letter of application, present their resumes and appear at hearings.

Voting, however, was kept secret at the Security Council, where the five permanent members -- Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States -- could cast an effective veto to block any candidate.

Old footage

Furthermore, the YouTube videos sharing the false claim show old footage unrelated to the appointment of a UN secretary-general.

At the video's 25-second mark, a clip of Guterres speaking is accompanied by subtitles that read in Indonesian: "And trusting him to be the next leader of the United Nations" -- purportedly referring to Jokowi.

But the subtitles are incorrect. Guterres actually says: "And that has promoted enormous inequalities, especially in the uneven distribution of resources."

The video was posted on YouTube on November 15, 2022 by the Indonesian news outlet Katadata, which said it showed Guterres speaking in Bali, ahead of the G20 summit.

Below is a screenshot comparison showing the different subtitles used in the false video (left) and the genuine video from Katadata (right):

Screenshot comparison of the video in the false post (left) and the genuine video from Katadata (right)

At the 45-second mark of the false video, Jokowi says: "This trust from the world is a responsibility that we must conduct correctly."

Jokowi was referring to Indonesia's selection as a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council in June 2018 -- not his purported appointment as the UN secretary-general.

Jokowi's full remarks can be seen in a video published by Indonesia's foreign ministry on June 13, 2018, which is titled: "President Jokowi: Indonesia's selection as UN Security Council member a result of diplomacy, hard work".

Below is a screenshot comparison of the video in the false post (left) and in the genuine video from the Indonesian foreign ministry (right):

Screenshot comparison of the video in the false post (left) and in the genuine video from the Indonesian foreign ministry (right)

Other clips in the false video show Jokowi during a visit to Russia in 2016 (0:25 mark) and a former political opponent of Jokowi saying he was pleased to join his cabinet in August 2022 (1:00 mark).

Further clips show Jokowi and Guterres at a meeting in Cambodia in November 2022 (2:18 mark), Jokowi attending an ASEAN-EU summit in December 2022 (1:46 mark) and Guterres speaking at the COP27 summit in December 2022 (2:56 mark).

At the false video's 1:45 mark, the video's narrator says: "Various parties, including heads of state and political observers, believe President Joko Widodo is capable of being a UN secretary-general after the end of his presidency".

A keyword search on Google found an article by Indonesian news outlet Kompas.com from November 2022 reporting that Said Abdullah, a top official at the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) -- the president's party, said he believed Jokowi "is capable of being a UN secretary-general after the end of his presidency".

Similarly, the narrator in the video misrepresents a statement by Guterres, falsely claiming at the 5:14 mark that he "strongly supports Indonesia in assuming the position of UN chairman".

However, keyword searches found that Guterres in fact declared his strong support for Indonesia "assuming the position of ASEAN chairmanship next year" -- a statement that was made during his G20 press conference in Bali.

Indonesia assumed the presidency of ASEAN from Cambodia in January 2023.