On Monday, Antonio Guterres was sworn in as the ninth and next United Nations Secretary-General. As he was sworn in, he took the pledge to reposition development at the center of the Organization’s work and ensure that the UN can change to effectively meet the myriad challenges facing the international community.
Antonio Guterres was formerly a Prime Minister of Portugal (1995 to 2002) and also served as a UN High Commissioner for Refugees (2005-2015). He took his oath of office when the General Assembly was done with their tribute to outgoing Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon who has served in the position for 10 years and will step down at the end of the month.
Starting his remarks at the swearing-in ceremony, António Guterres also paid his own tribute to the outgoing Secretary-General.
He described his leadership as “principled” and praised the part he played in charting the “future of the UN” through “the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development; through [his] commitment to peace and security; through [his] initiative to put human rights at the heart of [UN’s] work.”
After taking his oath of office, Antonio Guterres said;
“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.”
He also highlighted three strategic priorities for the Organization as;
- working for peace
- supporting sustainable development
- reforming its internal management
In order to work for peace, Antonio Guterres said that it was time to “engage in a comprehensive reform of the UN strategy, operational set-up and structures for peace and security,” he said that more must be done to prevent and respond to the sexual violence and exploitation committed by those serving under the UN flag against those they are supposed to protect. He said;
“We must ensure transparency and accountability – and offer protection and effective remedies to the victims.”
The secretary-general designate concluded his remarks by noting the increase in fragmentation within society despite improved avenues for connection around the world.
He emphasized that people need to trust in the values that bind us all and also trust “in the institutions that serve and protect us.