The incoming United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres officially begins his 5 year term today after being sworn in on the 12th of December.
Guterres, a former Prime Minister of Portugal (1995 to 2002) and former UN High Commissioner for Refugees (2005-2015) took the oath of office on the 12th December following the Assembly’s tribute to outgoing Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who steps down after leading the global Organization for the past 10 years.
In his first official message, the Secretary-General made a global appeal for peace in 2017.
“All that we strive for as a human family – dignity and hope, progress and prosperity – depends on peace. But peace depends on us. I appeal to you all to join me in committing to peace, today and every day. Let us make 2017 a year for peace.”
Commenting on the Secretary Generals’ message UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Residents Representative Una McCauley stated that “The topic of peace is especially relevant as Sri Lanka is uniquely placed to forge a path for long term and sustainable peace. On the dawn of the new year the United Nations remains committed to supporting the people of Sri Lanka on the journey towards peace and reconciliation.”
Welcoming the new Secretary-General António Guterres and committing to continue to work closely with the UN, Minister of Foreign Affairs Mangala Samaraweera emphasized the relevance of the Secretary-General’s message for a shared New Year’s resolution “to put peace first”, for the entire world community, and for Sri Lanka. He stressed the commitment of the National Unity Government of Sri Lanka, under the leadership of President Maithripala Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, to move forward on the path of reconciliation and achieving a durable peace.
(Colombo, 1 January 2017 | UN Media Release)
Please see below for the full text of the Secretary-General’s message.
‘On my first day as Secretary-General of the United Nations, one question weighs heavily on my heart.
How can we help the millions of people caught up in conflict, suffering massively in wars with no end in sight?
Civilians are pounded with deadly force. Women, children and men are killed and injured, forced from their homes, dispossessed and destitute. Even hospitals and aid convoys are targeted.
No one wins these wars; everyone loses. Trillions of dollars are spent destroying societies and economies, fueling cycles of mistrust and fear that can last for generations. Whole regions are destabilized and the new threat of global terrorism affects us all.
On this New Year’s Day, I ask all of you to join me in making 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.
From solidarity and compassion in our daily lives, to dialogue and respect across political divides… From ceasefires on the battlefield, to compromise at the negotiating table to reach political solutions…
Peace must be our goal and our guide.
All that we strive for as a human family – dignity and hope, progress and prosperity – depends on peace.
But peace depends on us.
I appeal to you all to join me in committing to peace, today and every day.
Let us make 2017 a year for peace.