"Reconstruct relations" between people and leaders

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António Guterres, Secretary-General-designate of the United Nations, takes the oath of office for his five-year term, which begins on 1 January 2017. The oath was administered by Peter Thomson, President of the 71st session of the General Assembly. UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe

The incoming Secretary-General of the United Nations has said he will use his role as the world's top diplomat to "reconstruct relations" between people and their leaders.

António Guterres made the pledge in the UN General Assembly hall as he read the oath of office before he officially takes up the position on 1 January, 2017.

Daniel Dickinson reports.

Speaking to a packed General Assembly hall during this mostly once-in-a-decade ceremony, António Guterres outlined some of the challenges facing not just the United Nations but humanity as a whole.

He spoke of growing global instability, social unrest, conflict and "horrific violations of international humanitarian law and human rights abuses."

And he added that fear is now "driving the decisions of many people around the world."

He said now is the time to rebuild trust.

"It is time to reconstruct relations between people and leaders – national and international. Time for leaders to listen and show that they care, about their own people and about the global stability on which we all depend. And it is time for the United Nations to do the same: to recognize its shortcomings, and to reform the way it works." 

The former Prime Minister of Portugal and UN High Commissioner for Refugees was selected in an unprecedented and open process from 14 candidates for the post of UN Secretary-General.

He will initially serve a five-year term, which may be renewed for another five years.

He becomes the ninth UN chief and succeeds Ban Ki-moon.

Daniel Dickinson, United Nations


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