New UN chief aims to make 2017 ‘a year for peace’

January 1, 2017 4:54 pm
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Antonio Guterres speaks to the media after being sworn in as UN secretary general December 12, 2016 at the United Nations in New York © AFP / Eduardo Munoz Alvarez

, United Nations, United States, Jan 1 – The new United Nations chief Antonio Guterres said Sunday he would like to make 2017 a year to “put peace first,” in a message heralding the new year and marking his first day as the world body’s chief.

The Portuguese former prime minister, 67, took over as UN Secretary-general from South Korea’s Ban Ki-moon, inheriting complex crises in Syria, South Sudan, Yemen, Burundi, North Korea and elsewhere.

“How can we help the millions of people caught up in conflict, suffering massively in wars with no end in sight?” Guterres said.

Antonio Guterres speaks to the media after being sworn in as UN secretary general December 12, 2016 at the United Nations in New York © AFP / Paz PIZARRO, Vincent Lefai

“Civilians are pounded with deadly force. Women, children and men are killed and injured, forced from their homes, dispossessed and destitute.

“No one wins these wars; everyone loses.”

Ushering in 2017, Guterres asked the world to make “one shared New Year’s resolution: Let us resolve to put peace first.

“Let us make 2017 a year in which we all — citizens, governments, leaders — strive to overcome our differences.”

Antonio Guterres speaks to the media after being sworn in as UN secretary general December 12, 2016 at the United Nations in New York © AFP / Vincent LEFAI, Paz PIZARRO

The unanimous election of Guterres — who fought for migrants’ rights as the UN High Commissioner for Refugees for a decade — has energized UN diplomats who see him as a skilled politician who may be able to overcome the divisions crippling the international organization.

“Peace must be our goal and our guide,” he said. “All that we strive for as a human family — dignity and hope, progress and prosperity — depends on peace.”

“But peace depends on us.”

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