by Britta Schmitz
UNITED NATIONS, 1 January 2017 – Antonio Guterres made his first statement as the new UN Secretary General on New Year’s Day. He urges everyone to join him in his New Year’s resolution, 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. Let us make 2017 a year in which we all – citizens, governments, leaders – strive to overcome our differences,“ said Guterres in his first statement as UN Secretary General.
“On my first day as Secretary General of the United Nations, one question weighs heavily on my heart,“ said Guterres.
“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, women, children and men are killed
and injured, forced from their homes, dispossessed and destitute. Even hospitals and aid convoys are targeted.“
From 2005 to 2015, Guterres, a former Prime Minister of Portugal, served as the 10th UN High Commissioner for Refugees. In 2012, he appointed Hollywood actress Angelina Jolie as his Special Envoy to represent himself as the High Commissioner and the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR).
“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,“ said Guterres.
Guterres has been formally appointed as the new Secretary General on 13 October 2016. The 67-year-old Portuguese politician started his five-year-term on 1 January 2017. Guterres will move into his office at UN Headquarters in New York Tuesday, where he will hold a speech to UN staff.
“From solidarity and compassion in our daily lives, to dialogue and respect across political divides. From ceasefires on the battlefield, to compromise at the negotiating table to reach political solutions. Peace must be our goal and our guide.“
António Guterres was born in Lisbon and studied physics and electrical engineering. Before starting his political career, he worked as an assistant professor. In 1992, he became the Secretary General of the Socialist Party, which he had joined in 1974. From 1995 to 2002, Guterres was the Prime Minister of Portugal.
“And all that we strive for as a human family – dignity and hope, progress and prosperity – depends on peace. But peace depends on us. And I appeal to you all to join me in committing to peace, today and every day. Let us make 2017 a year for peace,“ said Guterres.
Ban Ki-moon, who had been serving as the UN Secretary General since 2007, was invited to pparticipate in the annual Times Square Ball Drop on New Year’s Eve. Together with his wife Yoo Soon-taek, Ban pushed the New Year’s countdown button at Times Square in New York. The Ball Drop was his final act as a Secretary General.
“As we celebrate a new year, let us sound the loudest possible call for inclusion, compassion and peace,“ said Ban Ki-moon.