António Guterres sworn in as next UN Secretary-General

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Current UN Secretary-General Ban ki moon (left) with incoming Secretary-General Antonio Guterres (right)

Former Prime Minister of Portugal António Guterres was sworn in as the ninth Secretary-General of the United Nations, succeeding Ban Ki-moon who steps down at the end of December 2016.

Speaking following his swearing in by the President of the General Assembly. Mr. Peter Thomson, Mr Guterres said that he would continue the keystone achievements of Ban Ki-moon but that he also would strongly focus on measures to prevent conflict.

Mr. Guterres told delegates and UN staff in the General Assembly that "the UN must be ready to change.’’ He emphasized that he intended to put development at the centre of the work of the UN, that a strong culture of accountability was key and that management reform was needed for the Organization to meet the challenges it faces.

In outlining some of those challenges, Mr. Guterres stressed the need for the UN to be nimble, to work for management reform, to improve communication of the work of the United Nations to people around the world.

Antonio Guterres sworn in as UN Secretary-General
Antonio Guterres (left) sworn in as UN Secretary-General

Mr. Guterres begins his five-year term as Secretary-General on 1 January 2017. He said he was committed to gender equality and by the end of his term he expected gender parity in the senior leadership of the UN.

Finally, in his remarks delivered in English, French and Spanish, Mr. Guterres evoked the importance of the values of the UN, including peace, justice, human rights, and solidarity among others.

Mr. Guterres, 67, served as Prime Minister of Portugal from 1995 to 2002, and as UN High Commissioner for Refugees from June 2005 to December 2015.

He was formally appointed  by the General Assembly on 13 October 2016 in what was the culmination of an open process that contrasted with the previous closed-door consultations.

Prior to the swearing-in ceremony, the General Assembly adopted by acclamation a resolution that paid tribute to Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. In his remarks, the President of the General Assembly singled out Mr. Ban’s global action on climate change that resulted in the Paris Agreement, his work in ensuring the adoption of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Develop and for his support on gender equality, calling them an "enduring legacy.’’

Mr. Thomson also thanked the outgoing Secretary-General for his "never tiring service to humanity." The President of the General Assembly also thanked the outgoing Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson of Sweden for his services to the United Nations, saying that Mr Eliasson, a former Foreign Minister of Sweden, an example for all young diplomats.