Portugal’s Antonio Guterres will become the next UN Secretary-General on January l, 2017

Pictured here is UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on the right during a meeting with Antonio Guterres, who will become the next Secretary=General of the United Nations starting on January l, 2017. UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe
Pictured here is UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on the right during a meeting with Antonio Guterres, who will become the next Secretary=General of the United Nations starting on January l, 2017. UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe

When Antonio Guterres first heard of the Security Council’s decision to recommend him to the General Assembly as the next UN Secretary-General, “my feelings could be described by just two words,” he stated, “gratitude and humility “.

He added, “it is with the same gratitude and humility that I stand before you, now  joined by a profound sense of responsibility”.

In his remarks, Antonio Guterres, the former Prime Minister of Portugal, went on to say, “I am also grateful for the transparency and openness of the selection process and to the many competent, thoughtful, and dedicated candidates who came forward. I believe this process means that the true winner today is the credibility of the UN.  And it also made very clear to me that, as Secretary-General, having been chosen by all Member States, I must be at the service of them all equally and with no agenda, but the one enshrined in the UN Charter.

Antonio Guterres also stated that he was fully aware of the challenges the UN faces, and the Limitations surrounding the Secretary-General. As he put it, “the dramatic problems of today’s complex world can only inspire a humble approach – one in which the Secretary-General alone neither has all the answers, nor seek to impose his views one in which the Secretary-General makes his good offices available, working as a convener, a mediator, a bridge-builder and an honest broker to help find solutions that benefit everyone involved. “

Over the last ten years as the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, he stated: “I have witnessed firsthand, the suffering of the most vulnerable people on earth. I have visited war zones and refugee camps where one might legitimately ask” what has happened to the “dignity and worth of the human person”?  What has made us immune to the plight of those most socially and economically underprivileged?

“All this made me feel the acute responsibility to make human dignity the core of my work” he said and I trust, the core of our common work”. He also addressed the importance of gender equality and stated, “the protection and empowerment of women and girls will continue to be a priority commitment for me.”

In his closing remarks following his confirmation as the next UN Secretary-General starting on January l, 2017, Antonio Guterres said:

“I have faith in the United Nations because I believe in the universal values it stands for peace, justice, human dignity, tolerance, and solidarity.  Based on these values, I believe that diversity in all its forms is a tremendous asset, and not a threat; that in societies that are more multi-ethnic, multi-cultural and multi-religious, diversity can bring us together, not drive us apart.”

Ann Charles
Ann Charles is UN Bureau Chief of “Baltic Review” based in New York City. She covers diplomatic activities at United Nations Headquarters in New York and the world body’s work in human rights, education, culture, the environment, and tourism, among other global concerns.

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