For new UN secretary Guterres, “human dignity the core of my work”

The General Assembly unanimously votes for Mr Guterres who was picked by the Security Council a few days ago. For outgoing secretary general, he is a “super choice”.

New York (AsiaNews) – The UN General Assembly yesterday formally appointed António Guterres as secretary-general of the United Nations.

Guterres, a former Portuguese Prime Minister and a former UN High Commissioner for Refugees, will replace the outgoing Ban Ki-moon on 1st January 2017.

Although a vote by the General Assembly was a necessary formality, real power in the UN lies with the Security Council where five permanent members (USA, Russia, France, Britain and China) with veto power threw their support behind Mr Guterres who becomes the ninth secretary general of the organisation.

This follows a political compromise between Russia and China. The two Asian powers finally agreed on his name after a major confrontation.

The new secretary-general reflects a trend towards giving greater voice to emerging countries and developing geographical areas characterised by major human rights violations.

The new Secretary General played a leading role in ensuring civilian protection in armed conflicts, especially of women and children, and more broadly in promoting diversity.

"Over the last ten years I have witnessed first-hand the suffering of the most vulnerable people on earth.,” Guterres said after his appointment. In view of this, he said he would “make human dignity the core of my work”.

He also underlined that gender equality will be a UN priority. Slamming xenophobia, he noted “that diversity in all its forms is a tremendous asset” and “can bring us together, not drive us apart.”