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Antonio Guterres vows to 'engage personally' in resolving disputes


United Nations, Dec 13 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.

antonio guterres

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. Giving a clarion call that the UN "must be ready to change," Guterres pledged to reposition development at the centre of the organisation's work and ensure that the UN can change to effectively meet the myriad challenges facing the international community.

"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.

He said globalisation and technological progress have also contributed to growing inequalities, countries are battling youth unemployment and globalisation has also broadened the reach of organised crime and trafficking, deepening the divide between people and political establishments.

"In some countries, we have seen growing instability, social unrest -- even violence and conflict. A little bit everywhere, voters now tend to reject the status quo, and whatever government proposal is put to a referendum. Many have lost confidence not only in their governments, but in global institutions -- including the United Nations," he said.

Guterres said, in the current global enviorment, fear is driving the decisions of many people around the world.

"We must understand their anxieties and meet their needs, without losing sight of our universal values. It is time to reconstruct relations between people and leaders -- national and international; time for leaders to listen and show that they care, about their own people and about the global stability and solidarity on which we all depend. And it is time for the United Nations to do the same: to recognise its shortcomings and to reform the way it works," he said.

"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.


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