NEW YORK, USA — Sworn in on Monday as the ninth and next United Nations secretary-general, António Guterres pledged to reposition development at the centre of the Organization’s work and ensure that the UN can change to effectively meet the myriad challenges facing the international community.
“The United Nations needs to be nimble, efficient and effective. It must focus more on delivery and less on process; more on people and less on bureaucracy,” said Guterres after taking the oath of office at a ceremony before the 193-member UN General Assembly.
Guterres, a former prime minister of Portugal (1995 to 2002) and former UN High Commissioner for Refugees (2005-2015), replaces Ban Ki-moon, who steps down at the end of the month after leading the global Organization for the past ten years.
“The United Nations was born from war. Today we must be here for peace,” he added, noting that addressing root causes, cutting across all three pillars of the UN: peace and security, sustainable development and human rights, must be a priority for the Organization.
He was formally appointed by the General Assembly on 13 October in what was the culmination of an historic process member states set in motion late last year: the selection of a new UN secretary-general, traditionally decided behind closed-doors by a few powerful countries, for the first time in history involved public discussions with each candidate vying for the leadership position.
Monday’s ceremony opened with the Assembly paying tribute to Ban Ki-moon for his contribution to the work of the UN since 1 January 2006.
Former Secretary General Ban Ki-moon