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António Guterres Secures Second Term As UN Secretary-General, Calls For New Era Of ‘Solidarity And Equality’


António Guterres was on Friday re-appointed to a
second term as UN Secretary-General, pledging as his
priority, to continue helping the world chart a course out
of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Taking the oath of
office in the General Assembly Hall, Mr. Guterres said he
was aware of the immense responsibilities bestowed on him at
this critical moment in history.

World at a
crossroads

“We are truly at a crossroads, with
consequential choices before us. Paradigms are shifting. Old
orthodoxies are being flipped,” he told
ambassadors.

“We are writing our own history
with the choices we make right now. It can go either way:
breakdown and perpetual crisis or breakthrough and prospect
of a greener, safer and better future for all. There are
reasons to be hopeful.”

Mr. Guterres was the sole
candidate from the UN’s 193 Member States to vie for its
top job. His first five-year term began in January
2017.

He was nominated by his homeland, Portugal, and
appointed by acclamation by the General Assembly, following
prior endorsement by the UN Security
Council
, for a second term that runs from January 2022
to December 2026.

Turn the tide

Speaking in a
mix of English, French and Spanish – three of the UN’s
six official languages – Mr Guterres detailed how COVID-19 has taken
lives and livelihoods, while exposing inequalities. At the
same time, countries are confronting challenges such as
climate change and biodiversity loss.

He stated it was
crucial that the way out of the pandemic, as well as
socio-economic recovery, should occur on a much more
equitable basis, going forward.

“Our greatest
challenge – which is at the same time our greatest
opportunity – is to use this crisis to turn the tide, pivot
towards a world that learns lessons, promotes a just, green
and sustainable recovery and shows the way via increased and
effective international cooperation to address global
issues”, he said in French.

Momentum for
transformation

With the way forward filled with
colossal tasks, the Secretary-General expressed confidence
that they can be completed successfully, partly due to the
incredible commitment of UN staff across the world, though
underlining the need for continuous improvement, including
through better data and analysis, and a reduction in
“unnecessary bureaucracy”.

Although the world has
changed a lot, the UN’s promises remain constant, but
countries have to work together in entirely new ways to keep
them alive.

He called for seizing momentum for
transformation, while also stressing the need to bring other
voices to the table, including civil society, the private
sector and youth.

Vaccine equity
now

“Ultimately, this transformation has to do with
solidarity and equality”, Mr Guterres said, this time
speaking in Spanish.

“But equity needs to start now:
vaccines need to be available for everyone everywhere and we
must create the conditions for sustainable and inclusive
recovery both in the developed and developing world. And
there is still a long way to go.”

Mr Guterres warned
that countries must overcome their current “trust
deficit” if this is to be achieved.

“In
particular, we need to do everything we can to overcome
current geostrategic divides and dysfunctional power
relations. There are too many asymmetries and paradoxes.
They need to be addressed head-on,” he
advised.

“We also need to be aware of how power
plays out in today’s world when it comes to the
distribution of resources and
technology.”

Fostering trust, inspiring
hope

Mr Guterres vowed to use his second term to work
towards ensuring “the blossoming of trust between and
among nations” and to engage in confidence
building.

He will also seek to inspire hope that
things can be turned around, or that the impossible might be
made possible.

“The attitude is never to give up,”
he said. “This is not idealistic or utopian but grounded
in knowledge of history when big transformations occurred
and guided by the fundamental belief in the inherent
goodness of people. That breakthroughs are possible when we
expect it the least and against all odds. That is my
unwavering
commitment.”

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