New UN chief vows to ‘engage personally’ in resolving disputes
Asserting that the UN must focus more on delivery and less on process, newly-sworn in UN chief Antonio Guterres has pledged to "engage personally" in helping resolve long-standing disputes and reforming the 71- year-old world body to meet the current global challenges.Guterres, Portugal's Prime Minister from 1995 to 2002 and former UN High Commissioner for Refugees from 2005 to 2015, became the ninth UN Secretary-General after he was administered the oath of office by General Assembly President Peter Thomson here yesterday in a special session of the 193-member world body.Guterres succeeds Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who steps down at the end of this month after leading the global organisation for the past 10 years. He was elected to the top job in October and takes over from Ban on January 1."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…The scale of the challenges we face requires us to work together on a deep and continued process of UN reform," Guterres said after taking the oath of office.
"This organisation is the cornerstone of multilateralism, and has contributed to decades of relative peace. But, the challenges are now surpassing our ability to respond. The United Nations must be ready to change," he said.Guterres also vowed to use his good offices to help mediate in long-standing disputes between nations. "Where prevention fails, we must do more to resolve conflicts. From acute crises in Syria, Yemen, South Sudan and elsewhere to long-running disputes including the Israeli-Palestinian conflicts, we need mediation, arbitration as well as creative diplomacy. As part of my good offices, I am ready to engage personally in conflict resolution where it brings added value, recognising the lead role of member states," Guterres said.
At the onset of his remarks at the swearing-in-ceremony, he paid a tribute to Ban for his "principled leadership (that) helped to chart 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."Guterres highlighted three strategic priorities for the organisation — working for peace, supporting sustainable development, and reforming its internal management.Noting that often the UN is tasked with peacekeeping in places where there is no peace to keep, he said that a greater conceptual clarity and a shared understanding of the scope of peacekeeping was needed so as to pave the way for urgent reforms.
"Inspired by the new concept of sustaining peace, it is time for us all to engage in a comprehensive reform of the UN strategy, operational set-up and structures for peace and security," he said
"The UN system has not yet done enough to prevent and respond to the appalling crimes of sexual violence and exploitation committed under the UN flag against those we are supposed to protect," Guterres said as he emphasised on the need to do more 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.
"I will work closely with member states on structural, legal and operational measures to make the zero-tolerance policy…A reality," he asserted, adding that, "we must ensure transparency and accountability — and offer protection and effective remedies to the victims." PTI