Incoming UN Chief on Syria: ‘High Time to Put an End to This Nonsense’

U.N. Chief
Sipa USA via AP

The incoming United Nations Secretary-General, António Guterres from Portugal, believes the UN needs to be more efficient and effective and less bureaucratic.

“Looking at UN staff and budgetary rules and regulations, one might think some of them were designed to prevent, rather than enable, the effective delivery of our mandates,” he said after taking the oath of office at a ceremony Monday before representatives of the member states. He added, “It benefits no one if it takes nine months to deploy a staff member to the field.”

Asked about the ongoing humanitarian crises in Syria after his swearing in ceremony, the incoming UN chief told reporters he hopes to be an “honest broker, creating the conditions for confidence to be established” to find a solution.

“This is a war in which nobody is winning; this is a war in which everybody is losing,” he acknowledged. “This became a threat for everybody around the world; it is high time to put an end to this nonsense.”

During the ceremony on Monday, Guterres, a 67-year-old former prime minister of Portugal (1995 to 2002) and UN refugee chief (2005-2015), became the ninth UN chief.

He is expected to officially take over from UN chief Ban Ki-moon on January 1.

“The United Nations needs to be nimble, efficient and effective,” Guterres told member nations. “It must focus more on delivery and less on process; more on people and less on bureaucracy,” he said.

“The UN must be ready to change. Our most serious shortcoming — and here I refer to the entire international community — is our inability to prevent crises,” he also said, adding, “The United Nations was born from war. Today we must be here for peace.”

Guterres succeeded over more than a dozen other candidates who sought the UN chief position during a 10-month long election process, reports Voice of America (VOA).

“With the world facing its largest refugee and migrant crisis since World War II, numerous armed conflicts in the Middle East and Africa, the threat of terrorism, and the effects of climate change, Guterres will have a full plate when he takes up his duties on January 1 from outgoing U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon,” adds the news agency.

The incoming secretary-general vowed to place conflict prevention at the top of his agenda.

“Where prevention fails, we must do more to resolve conflicts,” he said, adding he would use his good offices to push for conflict resolution where it brings “added value.”

Mr. Guterres stressed the UN’s responsibility to promote peace and security across the world.

“Inspired by the new concept of sustaining peace, it is time for us all to engage in a comprehensive reform of the UN strategy, operational setup and structures for peace and security,” he noted.

Guterres “highlighted three strategic priorities for the Organization: working for peace; supporting sustainable development; and reforming its internal management,” reveals the UN.


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