The United Nations (UN) Secretary-General-designate, Antonio Guterres, has been sworn-in as the new Secretary-general of the world body at an oath of office ceremony held on Monday.
Witnessed by senior diplomats of member states and senior UN officials, Guterres repeated the oath after current General Assembly President Peter Thomson.
“I, Antonio Guterres, solemnly swear to exercise in all loyalty, discretion and conscience the functions entrusted to me as Secretary-General of the United Nations, to discharge these functions and regulate my conduct with the interests of the United Nations only in view, and not to seek or accept instructions in regard to the performance of my duties from any government or other authority external to the organization.”
After being sworn in by the UN General Assembly President, Guterres addressed the 193 member nations, saying the world body must work to simplify, decentralise and make more flexible its sprawling bureaucracy.
“It benefits no one if [it] takes nine months to deploy a staff member to the field,” he said, adding that “The United Nations needs to be nimble, efficient and effective. It must focus more on delivery and less on the process, more on people and less on bureaucracy”.
On October 13, the UN General Assembly appointed the former Prime Minister of Portugal, Antonio Guterres, as the 9th secretary-general in the 71-year history of the United Nations to succeed retiring Ban Ki-moon who steps down at the end of this year.
The five-year term for Guterres will start January 1, 2017, and end December 31, 2021.
Guterres, a 67-year-old politician, served as UN High Commissioner for Refugees from June 2005 to December 2015. Before joining the UN refugee agency, Guterres spent more than 20 years in government and public service. He was the prime minister of Portugal from 1995 to 2002.