Former Portuguese prime minister Antonio Guterres has been sworn in as the United Nations’ ninth secretary general.
Guterres, the former UN refugee chief, was sworn in on Monday in New York in front of Peter Thomson, the president of the UN General Assembly, and will replace outgoing Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon on January 1, 2017.
"Fear is driving the decisions of many people around the world, and we must understand their anxieties and meet their needs without losing sights of our universal values,” said Guterres.
He added that the time has come for citizens and leaders to reconstruct their relations, for leaders to start listening to their people, and for the UN to own up to its shortcomings and fix them.
“The organization is the cornerstone of multilateralism, and has contributed to decades of relative peace. But the challenges are now surpassing our ability to respond; the UN must be ready to change," he added.
He stressed that the only way to re-establish confidence in human and international relations is to tell the truth. “I believe it is with truth that I need to engage with all governments in the world,” he added.
Guterres, 67, led the country from 1995 to 2002. He was also the chief of the UN refugee agency for 10 years until 2015. He will be the first former head of government to lead the United Nations.
He was sworn in after the 193 General Assembly members paid tribute to Ban which ended with a standing ovation for the outgoing top UN official.
"Even as I prepare to leave my heart will stay as it has since I was a child right here with the United Nations. And that heart is greatly comforted knowing that I am passing the baton to Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, a man of integrity and principle. I have no doubt that he with his passion and compassion will successfully navigate many complex challenges and steer the organization to a new and higher height," said Ban.