UN Secretary General designate Antonio Guterres to be sworn in tomorrow


World, America

Guterres will assume his new role for a five-year term beginning January 1, 2017.

Guterres was unanimously appointed by the General Assembly as the successor to Ban. (Photo: AFP)

United Nations: Guterres, a former Portuguese Prime Minister will be sworn in on Monday as the next UN Secretary General, succeeding Ban Ki-moon as the ninth chief of the 71-year old world body.

President of the UN General Assembly Peter Thomson will administer the Oath of Office to Guterres, 67, at a special plenary meeting of the 193-member General Assembly. The Secretary-General-designate will then address the General Assembly.

Guterres was unanimously appointed by the General Assembly as the successor to Ban, after the 15-nation Security Council had in October decided by acclamation to send his name to the Assembly for final approval.

Ban's second five-year term as the world's top diplomat ends on December 31 and Guterres will assume his new role for a five-year term beginning January 1, 2017. The former Portuguese Prime Minister and UN High Commissioner for Refugees had remained the front-runner in the election to choose Ban's successor amid growing calls by civil society and several UN member states to elect a woman Secretary General.

During the special plenary meeting, speakers will pay tribute to Ban and after being administered the Oath of Office the Secretary-General-designate will also address the General Assembly.

Among those paying tributes to Ban will be Thomson and Representatives from Burkina Faso who will speak on behalf of the African States, Lao People's Democratic Republic who will speak on behalf of the Asia-Pacific States, Latvia who will speak on behalf of the Eastern European States, Costa Rica who will speak on behalf of the Latin American and Caribbean States, Sweden who will speak on behalf of the Western European and other States and the United States of America who will speak in its capacity as the host country.

Following his election, Guterres had vowed to work as a "convener" and "bridge-builder" to help find solutions to the world's pressing challenges.

He had underscored that human dignity, gender equality and fighting the alliance of violent extremists and expressions of xenophobia will be among his priorities as the world's top diplomat.

"I am fully aware of the challenges the UN faces and the limitations surrounding the Secretary-General," Guterres had said in his first address to the General Assembly following his appointment as the 9th Secretary General of the UN.

He had said the dramatic problems of today's complex world can only inspire a "humble approach - one in which the Secretary-General alone neither has all the answers, nor seeks to impose his views; one in which the Secretary-General makes his good offices available, working as a convener, a mediator, a bridge-builder and an honest broker to help find solutions that benefit everyone involved."

Guterres had underscored the importance of diversity in meeting the challenges of the world. He had called on the international community to ensure that "we are able to break the alliance between all the terrorist groups and violent extremists on one side and the expressions of populism and xenophobia on the other side."

"These two reinforce each other and we must be able to fight both of them with determination," he had said. Having worked as the UN High Commissioner for Refugees for 10 years, Guterres had said he has witnessed "first hand" the suffering of the most vulnerable people on earth.

"I have visited war zones and refugee camps where one might legitimately ask: what has happened to the 'dignity and worth of the human person'," he said.

The immunity among people of the world to the plight of those most socially and economically underprivileged has underscored that he has the "acute responsibility" to make human dignity the core of his work.

He had also noted that gender equality will be a focus area of his work as the UN Chief.

"I have long been aware of the hurdles women face in society, in the family and in the workplace just because of their gender," Guterres said.

"I have witnessed the violence they are subject to during conflict, or while fleeing it, just because they are women," he said adding that the protection and the empowerment of women and gender parity in the organisation "are and will continue to be a priority commitment for me."