06:17 4 January 2017
Guterres emphasizes importance of U.N. on 1st working day
NEW YORK, Jan. 3, Kyodo
U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres on Tuesday painted a realistic picture of the situation he and his staff face as he takes up his new post, and pointed to the importance the world body plays despite its shortcomings in apparent response to critics around the globe during his first staff address.
"I think we should have no illusions, we are facing very challenging times," the former prime minister of Portugal told an audience of U.N. staffers who crowded into the lobby to hear his first remarks after taking up his post on Sunday.
"This is the moment in which we need to assert the value of multilateralism, this is the moment in which we need to recognize that only global solutions can address global problems and the U.N. is the cornerstone of that multilateral approach."
His comments bear special relevance in light of President-elect Donald Trump, who has been critical of the world body and tweeted last month that it was "just a club for people to get together, talk and have a good time." Trump also warned that things would be different there after Jan. 20 when he takes up his presidency.
Guterres noted "the growing divide" between public opinion and governments around the world regarding perceptions about international organizations and how there was "a lot of resistance" and "a lot of skepticism" that has to be overcome about the United Nations.
"We need to have a strong engagement to change and to reform and to improve," he added, noting that it was important to also try to rid the organization of "this straitjacket of bureaucracy."
In his closing remarks he gave a realistic assessment, saying "there are no miracles and I am sure I am not a miracle maker."
Guterres was chosen for the post after being presented among other candidates publicly in a new process that broke from past tradition. In October, he was recommended by the Security Council as the candidate to replace Ban Ki Moon and was later approved by the General Assembly.
Next Monday, he is slated to hold a town hall meeting with U.N. staff.