Antonio Guterres, a former prime minister of Portugal who later spent 10 years as head of the UN Refugee Agency, was sworn in today as secretary general of the United Nations.
Guterres, 67, served as prime minister from 1995 to 2002, and was UN high commissioner for refugees from June 2005 to December 2015. He was formally named the world’s top diplomat in October and will start his new role Jan. 1.
The swearing-in ceremony was held in the UN’s General Assembly hall in New York City following tributes to outgoing Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.
In his speech on Monday, he laid out his priorities while reassuring world powers he has their interests at heart. In a pitch to the incoming Republican administration, Mr. Guterres said he would make the United Nations more “nimble” and “efficient” and promised “management reform,” shorthand for cost cutting. There is widespread concern among United Nations diplomats that Mr. Trump, who has dismissed the value of global cooperation, at least on the campaign trail, could kneecap the organization, going well beyond the gutting of specific programs, like reproductive rights, targeted by previous Republican administrations.
Mr. Guterres committed the United Nations to fighting terrorism, He also underlined that alleviating the suffering of the vulnerable people, in particular the refugees and those in conflict zones, and gender equality would remain key priorities for him during his tenure.
Secretary-General-designate Guterres also reiterated his belief in the values of peace, justice, human dignity, tolerance and solidarity, as well as his belief that diversity is a “tremendous asset” and not a threat.
courtesy UN, VOA and NYTimes
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