Monday, 2 January 2017

Guterres takes reins at United Nations

Looking to make changes

Antonio Guterres assumes the reins of the United Nations on Sunday hoping to breathe new life into the world body, in the wake of its impotence over Syria's humanitarian catastrophe.

The Portuguese former prime minister, 67, will become the 1st onetime head of government to lead the UN, succeeding South Korea's Ban Ki-moon for a 5-year term.

His unanimous election has energised UN diplomats who see him as a skilled politician who may be able to overcome the divisions crippling the United Nations.

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THE IN-TRAY WHICH AWAITS ANTONIO GUTERRES THE NEW SECRETARY-GENERAL OF THE UNITED NATIONS

It is a heavy and critical workload which Antonio Guterres will inherit from Ban Ki-moon when the former Portuguese prime minister takes up office at the United Nations.

He becomes the new Secretary-General at a time when the world is enmeshed in a series of crises.

The civil war in Syria and its impact on the world has been a constant in the minds of politicians and diplomats for over five years. The tension in relations between Russia and the West is ever present while terror is constantly striking in different regions of the globe.

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The toothless United Nations must seize this last chance to save itself

As the Syrian government and its backers tighten their grip on Aleppo, and Turkey and Russia reveal yet another ceasefire in Syria, the same questions trouble many an outraged onlooker. Has the United Nations ever seemed more toothless than it does now? Why did this congregation of almost 200 countries lack the power first to prevent, and then to halt, such civilian bloodshed? Why had it been unable to convene all the parties around the same table to any productive end? And if the UN is incapable of acting in a crisis such as this, what is the point of it?

António Guterres takes over as the new secretary general of the UN on Sunday at a time when the international organisation’s reputation is, at least from the perspective of many western countries, as low as it has ever been. The hopes that were invested in this successor to the failed League of Nations seem to have been dashed at the very time when they mattered most – and not for the first time. Is the former Portuguese prime minister someone who can show that the organisation has a mission that can work?

It is a good deal easier to forecast failure than success. After all, successes for the UN in recent years have been few and far between. Much of the peace-brokering, such as it is, has been accomplished by others, including the US and – yes – the much-maligned EU.

related: Will António Guterres be the UN's best ever secretary general?

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New UN chief urges New Year's resolution: 'Put Peace First'
New Year's resolution - In this Dec. 2, 2016 file photo, President Barack Obama pauses for media to take their places as he meets with United Nations Secretary-General-designate, Antonio Guterres, in the Oval Office of the White House, in Washington. Guterres takes the reins of the United Nations on New Year's Day, promising to be a "bridge-builder" but facing an antagonistic incoming US administration led by Donald Trump who thinks the world body's 193 member states do nothing except talk and have a good time. (AP/Carolyn Kaster, File)

Antonio Guterres took the reins of the United Nations on New Year's Day, promising to be a "bridge-builder" but facing an antagonistic incoming US administration led by Donald Trump who thinks the world body's 193 member states do nothing except talk and have a good time.

The former Portuguese prime minister and UN refugee chief told reporters after being sworn-in as secretary-general on Dec. 12 that he will engage all governments — "and, of course, also with the next government of the United States" — and show his willingness to cooperate on "the enormous challenges that we'll be facing together."

But Trump, with his "America First" agenda, has shown little interest in multilateralism, which Guterres says is "the cornerstone" of the United Nations.

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UN chief Guterres marks start of a new era

The United Nations is marking the new year with a change in leadership and five new Security Council members. But is it really the start of a new era?

At midnight Saturday, Ban Ki Moon relinquished his role as UN secretary general to Antonio Guterres, who then made a global appeal for peace, urging all people to make a shared New Year's resolution: "Let us resolve to put peace first."

His words echo those of his predecessor, Ban, who on assuming the role of secretary general of the United Nations in January 2007 declared that his mandate would be "marked by ceaseless efforts to build bridges and put an end to divisions."

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New UN chief launches appeal for peace as he takes office

Secretary-General of the United Nations Antonio Guterres launched Appeal for Peace, in which he called on everybody to overcome differences and have peace.

In his first statement, Guterres said "On my first day as Secretary-General of the United Nations, one question weighs heavily on my heart. How can we help the millions of people caught up in conflict, suffering massively in wars with no end in sight?" Civilians are pounded with deadly force, he said, adding that women, children and men are killed and injured, forced from their homes, dispossessed and destitute. Even hospitals and aid convoys are targeted.

"No one wins these wars; everyone loses. Trillions of dollars are spent destroying societies and economies, fueling cycles of mistrust and fear that can last for generations. Whole regions are destabilized and the new threat of global terrorism affects us all".

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New Year Brings New Leadership at UN
United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon (left) and Secretary-General-designate Antonio Guterres stand together after the swearing-in ceremony at UN headquarters in New York on Dec. 12, 2016. /Reuters

Incoming United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres took over the top position at the world's top diplomatic body Sunday, after outgoing leader Ban Ki-moon's term ended at midnight, Dec. 31.

Guterres, former prime minister of Portugal and former High Commissioner for Refugees, has told the United Nations in a speech that the question of how to help millions of people caught up in conflict and war weighs heavily on his heart.

He noted that civilians are faced with deadly force, killed and injured, forced from their homes, and thrown into poverty. He lamented that even hospitals and aid convoys are not safe from violence.

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New UN chief aims to make 2017 'a year for peace'

The new United Nations chief Antonio Guterres said Sunday he would like to make 2017 a year to "put peace first," in a message heralding the new year and marking his first day as the world body s chief.

The Portuguese former prime minister, 67, took over as UN Secretary-general from South Korea s Ban Ki-moon, inheriting complex crises in Syria, South Sudan, Yemen, Burundi, North Korea and elsewhere.

"How can we help the millions of people caught up in conflict, suffering massively in wars with no end in sight?" Guterres said.

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Put peace first, says new UN chief Guterres
Guterres pledges to make 2017 'a year for peace' UN Photo/Jean-Marc Ferré

On his first day at the helm of the United Nations, Secretary-General António Guterres yesterday (January 1) pledged to make 2017 a year for peace.

“On this New Year's Day, I ask all of you to join me in making one shared New Year's resolution: Let us resolve to put peace first,” said Guterres in an appeal for peace.

He said one question weighs heavy on his heart. “That is: how can we help the millions of people caught up in conflict, suffering massively in wars with no end in sight?”

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Israeli ambassador on new UN secretary-general: 'Just be fair'
AMBASSADOR DANNY DANON shakes hands with incoming UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres in New York yesterday. (photo credit:ISRAEL MISSION TO THE UN)

Former Portuguese prime minister Antonio Guterres took over from Ban Ki-moon on Sunday as the UN’s new secretary-general, and Israel has one request: Just be fair.

“I met with him and was impressed with his wide knowledge of the UN and the international arena,” Israel’s Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon told The Jerusalem Post. “I hope we can turn a new page with him.” Danon acknowledged that Guterres has a difficult job when it comes to Israel and the Middle East.

“I told him that the UN system creates so much negative energy against Israel, we just want him to be objective – not for Israel, but objective – and able to withstand the tremendous pressure against Israel that exists inside the UN.”

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UN’s New Year resolution: ‘put peace first’
‘How can we help the millions of people who suffer massively in wars with no end in sight?’

In a message on Sunday marking his first day as the world body’s chief, the newly appointed United Nations Chief Antonio Guterres said that he would like to make 2017 a year to ‘put peace first’.

The 67-year-old former Portuguese prime minister took over as UN Secretary-general from South Korea’s Ban Ki-moon, inheriting the complex crises in Syria, South Sudan, Yemen, Burundi, North Korea and any issue anywhere in the world.

“How can we help the millions of people caught up in conflict, suffering massively in wars with no end in sight?” Guterres said.

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What you need to know about new U.N. chief António Guterres

Portuguese diplomat António Guterres took over as the United Nations' new secretary-general Sunday and issued an appeal for peace.

“Let us make 2017 a year in which we all — citizens, governments, leaders — strive to overcome our differences,” Guterres said shortly after taking the reins. He urged people to share his New Year's resolution: "Let us resolve to put peace first."

Guterres, 67, succeeds Ban Ki-moon, who was the U.N. chief for 10 years. Here are four things to know about Guterres, the ninth leader of the world organization:
  • He wants more women at the U.N.
  • He wants to meet Trump 'as soon as possible'
  • He may refocus efforts on refugee programs
  • He wants a 'culture of prevention' 

Facts About Newly Appointed UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres
Antonio Guterres, former prime minister of Portugal, who also led the United Nations refugee agency, took the office as the UN secretary general on Sunday

He succeeded Ban Ki-moon, whose term as UN chief expired at midnight on December 31, 2016.

Antonio Manuel de Oliveira Guterres was born on April 30, 1949 in Lisbon. He graduated from the Instituto Superior Tecnico in 1971 with a degree in engineering.

Guterres entered politics in 1976 when he joined the Socialist Party and was elected to Portugal's Assembly of the Republic. He served as a legislator for 17 years. While in the unicameral parliament, he was chairman of committees tasked with overseeing Portugal's economy, public finances and environmental matters. Guterres also led his party’s parliamentary faction.

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UN SAYS BYE BYE BAN KI-MOON AS SOUTH KOREAN PRESIDENCY BECKONS

Ban Ki-moon has been saying goodbye to his UN staff as he leaves the top job in the organisation after 10 years.

He left the New York headquarters to applause as he moved through the rooms thanking everyone for their efforts.

It was a decade of one step forward and two back for the UN, with some successes but also failure to stop the war in Syria and an ongoing scandal about the behaviour of African peacekeepers.

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