UN picks next secretary-general
The United Nations General Assembly on Thursday appointed former Prime Minister of Portugal António Guterres as the ninth UN Secretary-General starting on Jan 1, 2017.
Guterres, 67, will succeed Ban Ki-moon, who will retire on Dec 31 after two five-year terms. Guterres, who was Portugal’s prime minister from 1995 to 2002, was UN High Commissioner for Refugees from June 2005 to December 2015.
Guterres said that alleviating the suffering of vulnerable people, in particular the refugees and those in conflict zones, and gender equality would remain his priorities during his tenure.
The Secretary-General-designate emphasized his belief in the values of peace, justice and human dignity.
Diversity is a “tremendous asset” and not a threat, he said.
The UN Security Council last week unanimously recommended that the General Assembly appoint Guterres. He beat out 12 other candidates, seven of whom were women.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said Guterres is a “wonderful choice” to steer the organization as we build on the progress of the past decade, while addressing the insecurity and uncertainties of today’s world.
“Secretary-General-elect Guterres is well known to all of us in the hall. But he is perhaps best known where it counts most: on the frontlines of armed conflict and humanitarian suffering,” Ban said, referring to his time as head of the UN refugee agency.
Liu Jieyi, China’s permanent representative to the UN, congratulated Guterres.
Guterres thanked member states for their trust and for the transparent and open selection process.
“I believe this process means that the true winner today is the credibility of the UN,” he said.
“And it also made very clear to me that, as secretarygeneral, 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.”
For the first time, the selection of a new secretary-general involved public discussions with each candidate campaigning for the world’s top diplomatic post.
The first three candidates presented their vision statements and answered questions at the informal briefings between the candidates, UN member states and civil society representatives.
Assembly President Thomson stressed that he would do everything within his power to facilitate a smooth transition.
Secretary-General-designate Antonio Guterres (left) of Portugal is greeted by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon at United Nations headquarters in New York on Thursday.