Mr Guterres appointed next Secretary-General of the United Nations
The South African Government extends its warm congratulations to Mr António Guterres from Portugal following his appointment by the United Nations General Assembly as the organisation’s 9th Secretary-General. Mr Guterres will serve a five-year term from 1 January 2017 to 31 December 2021.
Mr Guterres brings with him a wealth of experience. He served as Prime Minister of Portugal from 1995 to 2002 and as the UN High Commissioner for Refugees from June 2005 to December 2015.
South Africa believes it was due to the concerted efforts by the membership of the General Assembly to regain its Charter-mandated role in the selection and appointment of the Secretary-General that enabled the appointment of such an exceptional candidate.
In his vision statement to the General Assembly, Mr Guterres highlighted a number of priority issues that are aligned with South Africa’s foreign policy objectives, including:
• Viewing security and development as a continuum not to be pursued separately;
• Emphasising the importance of preventive diplomacy aimed at achieving political solutions based on inclusive engagement; and
• Increased cooperation with regional organisations.
The South African Government looks forward to establishing a close working relationship with Mr Guterres and wishes him well in shouldering the momentous responsibility that comes with leading the world’s foremost international organisation.
South Africa thanks the outgoing Secretary-General of the United Nations, Mr Ban Ki-moon, for his unselfish service to the organisation and its member states over the past decade.
Mr Ban leaves behind a legacy that includes the successful adoption of the Paris Climate Agreement and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in 2015. These landmark agreements will steer the world’s development agenda for the next 15 years at least.
Furthermore, Mr Ban’s legacy includes the mainstreaming of gender equality globally and also within the organisation with the establishment of UN Women, which is currently headed by South Africa’s former Deputy President Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka.
In congratulating Mr Guterres upon his appointment, President Zuma said: “We are pleased that a friend of South Africa, and our Continent, has been appointed to such an important position. Mr Guterres brings with him a lifetime of service to humanity, and he can be assured of South Africa’s strong support for the work that lies ahead”.