Former Portuguese Prime Minister Antonio Manuel de Oliveira Guterres, has been sworn in as the 9th United Nations Secretary-General at the UN headquarters in New York.This was after he had taken the Oath of Office for his five year term, which begins on January 1, 2017.
President of the UN General Assembly Peter Thompson administered the Oath during the 71st session of the Assembly in front of the 193-member states.
A statement available to the Ghana News Agency in Accra said the 67 year old Secretary-General-designate will take over from 72 year old. Ban Ki-Moon of South Korea, whose ten-year tenure will expire at the end of this month.
Mr. Guterres, a former UN High Commissioner for Refugees paid tribute to Mr. Ban Ki Moon for his commitment to peace and security and for helping to chart the future of the UN – through the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda.
The former UN High Commissioner for Refugees appointed by the General Assembly on 13 October this year noted that the three strategic priorities for the UN that is working for peace; supporting sustainable development; and reforming its internal management and pledged to personally help broker peace in various conflicts.
“In the end, it comes down to values, as was said so many times today. We want the world our children inherit to be defined by the values enshrined in the UN Charter: peace, justice, respect, human rights, tolerance and solidarity,” he stated.
The Secretary-General-designate criticised the UN system for not doing enough to prevent and respond to the appalling crimes of sexual violence and exploitation committed under the UN flag against those we are supposed to protect and promised to do more to prevent and respond all forms of sexual exploitation.
On the issue of gender parity and their appointments to senior management positions, he promised that “By the end of my mandate, we should reach full gender parity at the Under-Secretary-General and Assistant Secretary-General levels, including special representatives and special envoys.”
Furthermore, Mr. Guterres indicated that he will engage in a comprehensive reform of the UN development system – both at headquarters and at country levels.
The Secretary-General-designate pointed out that the UN, which is tasked with peacekeeping in places where there is no peace to keep, needed to have a greater conceptual clarity and a shared understanding of the scope of peacekeeping in order to pave the way for urgent reforms.
“The threats to these values are most often based on fear. Our duty to the peoples we serve is to work together to move from fear of each other, to trust in each other.”
“In his remarks, Mr. Ban Ki-Moon said it had been an honour and privilege for him to serve the UN and work together with the Member states and alongside the many courageous, dedicated and talented men and women of the UN.
He was happy to have seen the UN open its doors wider than ever to civil societies and many partners to help transform the world, stressing that “the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Paris Agreement on Climate Change have opened a pathway to a safer, more just and peaceful world for all of us”.
Maintaining that he sought to stand up for the vulnerable and those left behind, Mr. Ban Ki-Moon said “and I have tried to be sure that we are doing all we can so that future generations can live in peace” .
He was confident that the in-coming Secretary General Guterres had the passion and compassion to successfully navigate the many complex challenges and steer the organization to new and higher heights.
The out-going Secretary General also expressed gratitude for the many tributes to him.