The current UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon will be stepping down from his position by the end of the month to be replaced by his successor António Guterres who was sworn in on Monday.
As the General Assembly gathered together to swear in António Guterres, a tribute was also paid to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon for his “never-tiring service to humanity”.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon has served in the top diplomat position for 10 years. The General Assembly President Peter Thomson acknowledged UN Secretary-General Ban’s exceptional contribution to the work of the UN and noteworthy achievements. He said;
“Over the last ten years, Secretary-General Ban has led the United Nations with unwavering principles for the good, with dedicated professionalism, and with never-tiring service to humanity.
“Whether it was shifting international dynamics, a rebalancing of economic influence, rapid technological advances, or the rising interconnectivity and mobility of people, Secretary-General Ban was always in the vanguard.”
The President of the General Assembly who alluded to a number of noteworthy achievements in the course of Ban Ki-Moon’s service as the UN Secretary-General cited three in particular.
He talked about;
- The Secretary-General’s unceasing efforts on the issue of climate change which culminated in the adoption of the Paris Agreement
- His adoption of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development for a more just, prosperous and secure world
- His support for gender equality which saw the establishment of the UN Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women, known as UN Women
The General Assembly also adopted a resolution, paying tribute to UN Secretary-General Ban’s service to the United Nations. Ban Ki-Moon in a speech in response to the resolution, which saw the General Assembly give him a standing ovation, said “serving as Secretary-General of this great Organization, has been a great privilege for me of a lifetime.”
He referred back to his childhood, stating that “After the Korean War, UN aid fed us. UN textbooks taught us. UN global solidarity showed us we were not alone. For me, the power of the United Nations was never abstract or academic.”
UN Secretary-General Ki-Moon also spoke about challenges faced during his time, which included the worst financial collapse since the Great Depression, eruptions of conflict and uprisings for freedom and record numbers of people fleeing war, persecution, and poverty.
He insisted that throughout the period of his mandate;
“I have maintained a focus on people’s dignity and rights – the pillars of our common humanity. I have sought to stand up for the vulnerable and those left behind today. And I have tried to be sure that we are doing all we can so that future generations can live in peace.
“Even as I prepare to leave, my heart will stay as it has since I was a child – right here with the United Nations.”
Tribute was also paid to the outgoing UN Secretary-General by representatives of Burkina Faso (on behalf of the African States), Lao People’s Democratic Republic (on behalf of the Asia-Pacific States), Latvia (on behalf of the Eastern European States), Costa Rica (on behalf of Latin American and Caribbean States), Sweden (on behalf of the Western European and other States) and the United States (as the host country).