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Geneva
Friday, February 23, 2024

Antonio Guterres, ninth UN Secretary-General

The new Secretary-General of the United Nations, Antonio Guterres, officially took office on January 1, 2017 for a five-year term. During his swearing-in ceremony the former Portuguese Prime Minister promised to put development at the center of the UN's work.

He assured us that the organization could change to respond effectively to the multiple challenges facing the international community. Mindful of the importance of gender equality and parity, he appointed three women to high-level posts. Nigeria's Amina J. Mohamed is Deputy Secretary-General of the UN, Brazil's Maria Luiza Ribeiro Viotti is Chef de Cabinet to the Secretary-General, and Korea's Kyung-wha Kang becomes his Special Adviser on Policy.

Prime Minister of Portugal from 1995 to 2002 and United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees from 2005 to 2015, Antonio Guterres was appointed Secretary-General by the United Nations General Assembly on October 13, 2016. In his swearing-in speech, Antonio Guterres highlighted three strategic priorities for the Organization: working for peace; supporting sustainable development; and reforming its internal management.

Aware of the current context, the ninth Secretary General of the UN declared that "too many decisions around the world are dictated by fear". The important thing, in his view, is not to lose universal values by responding to the needs of anxious populations. Just as "the time has come for leaders to listen to the people, to show them that they want their good, and that they are committed to global stability, Guterres believes that the UN must do the same. It's time for the UN "to recognize its shortcomings and change its working methods."

The Organization is the cornerstone of multilateralism, and has contributed to relative peace for decades. But it is no longer in a position to respond to contemporary challenges. It must be ready to reform.

According to Antonio Guterres, "the UN's real weakness lies in its inability to prevent crises. He declared that "born on the ashes of war", "today, it is there" to ensure peace."

"Prevention is not just a priority, it's the priority.

If we live up to our responsibilities, we will

will save lives, reduce suffering and give you more

hope to millions of people".

Antonio Guterres believes that the UN is often tasked with peacekeeping in places where there is no peace to keep. He believes that "far more time and resources are devoted to responding to crises than to preventing them. People are paying too high a price."

In his view, a whole new strategy needs to be devised, as it is proving difficult to persuade decision-makers at national and international level to make prevention their priority. "Maybe it's because successful prevention doesn't attract attention. The TV cameras aren't there when a crisis is averted", he points out.

According to the new UN chief, more also needs to be done to prevent and respond to sexual violence and exploitation committed by those serving under the UN flag against the people they are supposed to protect. A week after taking office, Guterres set up a task force under the chairmanship of Jane Holl Lute With regard to the reform agenda, concerning UN support to Member States in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the Secretary-General said he would initiate a comprehensive reform of the UN development system, both at headquarters and at country level. "If you look at the personnel and budget regulations of the United Nations, you would think that some of them were designed to prevent, rather than enable, the effective delivery of our mandates," he said.

"Everyone is penalized if it takes nine months to deploy a member of staff in the field".

The Secretary-General expressed the need to promote a culture of accountability and effective protection for whistleblowers. He also wants people to be able to see for themselves the work carried out by the UN. Speaking at a breakfast organized by the Association of UN Correspondents (ACANU) on 1 January, the Secretary-General said he wanted to "make the organization more effective and inspire the degree of trust it deserves."

In his first message of the year, Antonio Guterres expressed the hope that the world to join him in making 2017 a year of Peace. year of Peace.

"Everything we value as a human family - dignity and hope, progress and prosperity - depends on peace. dignity and hope, progress and prosperity, depends on peace. But peace depends on us."