NEW YORK, Thursday, 13 October, 2016 – The United Nations General Assembly today appointed His Excellency Mr António Guterres of Portugal as the next Secretary-General of the UN beginning 1 January, 2017, succeeding incumbent His Excellency Mr. Ban Ki-moon whose second five-year tenure ends on 31 December 2016.
The 193-Member States General Assembly adopted by acclamation a resolution seeking the appointment of Mr. Guterres following the recommendation of the 15-Member UN Security Council on 6 October, 2016 for him to become Secretary-General.
Mr. Guterres beat 12 other candidates in the six straw polls that the Security Council conducted.
Mr. Guterres, aged 67, served as UN High Commissioner for Refugees from June 2005 to December 2015 and Prime Minister of Portugal from 1995 to 2002, among other national and international portfolios.
Mr. Guterres’ tenure as Secretary-General will run from 1 January 2017 to 31 December 2021.
In his acceptance address, Mr. Guterres thanked the Security Council and the General Assembly for entrusting him with the position of Secretary-General of the UN.
“When I heard the Security Council’s decision to recommend me to the General Assembly, my feelings could be described by just two words: gratitude and humility,” Mr. Guterres told the fully-packed General Assembly. “I am grateful for the transparency and openness of the selection process and to the many competent, thoughtful and dedicated candidates who came forward.”
Mr. Guterres said, having been chosen by all member states, he would be at the service of them all equally with no agenda but the one enshrined in the UN Charter.
“I have faith in the United Nations because I believe in the universal values it stands for: peace, justice, human dignity, tolerance and solidarity. Based on these values, I believe that diversity in all its forms is a tremendous asset, and not a threat; that in societies that are more and more multi-ethnic, multi-religious, diversity can bring us together, not drive us apart,” said Mr. Guterres, and reaffirmed his commitment to promote gender equality.
The Secretary-General-Designate commended Mr. Ban on his successes during the 10-year reign, and highlighted his role in the recently adopted 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Paris Agreement on Climate Change.
Mr. Guterres assured Mr. Ban and member states of his commitment to implement the initiatives started by the South Korean veteran diplomat.
In his address, Mr. Ban said: “he [Mr. Guterres] is a wonderful choice to steer this Organization as we build on the progress of the past decade, while addressing the insecurity and uncertainties of today’s world.”
The Permanent Representative and Ambassador of Niger to the UN, His Excellency Mr. Abdallah Wafy, speaking on behalf of the African Group, congratulated Mr Guterres and lauded the achievements of Mr. Ban.
Representatives of the four other regional groups welcomed the appointment of Mr. Guterres and wished him well in his new role commencing next January.
They praised Mr. Ban and his wife Ban Soon-taek.
US Permanent Representative and Ambassador to the UN, Honourable Samantha Power, described Mr. Guterres as “a supremely qualified candidate” appointed Secretary-General.
Ambassador Power urged Mr. Guterres to serve as a peacemaker, reformer and an advocate for the UN to succeed.
Zambia UN Mission Chargé d’Affaires ad interim Christine Kalamwina joined Permanent Representatives and other senior diplomats in congratulating Mr. Guterres on his appointment.
Zambia participated in the UN General Assembly Informal Dialogue with all the candidates for the position of Secretary-General.
In its capacity as Chair of the 32-member Landlocked Developing Countries (LLDCs), Zambia – during the informal dialogue – urged Mr. Guterres to mobilise international support to address the challenges of LLDCs and other countries in special situations.
In response, Mr Guterres assured: “Distinguished representative of Zambia, what I said about Small Island Developing States and Least Developed Countries, is entirely true for Landlocked Developing Countries. These [Groups in special situations] are a crucial priority from the point of view of the SDGs if we want sustainable development goals to be really universal.”
Other candidates for the UN Secretary-General position were: Dr. Srgjan Kerim (Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia), Prof. Vesna Pusi? (Croatia), Dr. Igor Lukši? (Montenegro), Dr. Danilo Türk (Slovenia), Ms. Irina Bokova (Bulgaria), Ms. Natalia Gherman (Moldova), Ms. Helen Clark (New Zealand), Mr. Vuk Jeremi? (Serbia), Ms. Susana Malcorra (Argentina), Mr. Miroslav Laj?ák (Slovak Republic), Ms. Christiana Figueres (Costa Rica) and Ms. Kristalina Georgieva (Bulgaria).