Monday, December 12, 2016

Portugal's Antonio Guterres sworn in as new UN chief

Former Portugal Prime Minister Antonio Guterres was officially sworn in as the new secretary-general of the United Nations on Monday.

Antonio Guterres took the oath of office during a formal ceremony at the General Assembly in which he pledged to "exercise in all loyalty, discretion and conscience" his duties as UN chief when he takes over from Ban Ki-moon on January 1.

Guterres was appointed to the post by the UN General Assembly on October 13 in a shift towards a more high-profile leadership of the world body.

The socialist politician, who also served as UN refugee chief for a decade, is expected to play a more prominent role as the world's diplomat-in-chief than Ban, the South Korean who will step down after two five-year terms.

The 67-year-old polyglot campaigned on a pledge to promote human rights and enact reforms within the UN system, seen as clunky and too slow to respond to unfolding disasters.

Guterres vowed Monday to carry out reforms to improve the world body, in an address delivered after he took the oath of office.

"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," Guterres told the General Assembly.

"UN must be ready to change," he added.

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