Remarks by United Nations Secretary-General-designate at Press Encounter

SG/2236
12 December 2016

Remarks by United Nations Secretary-General-designate at Press Encounter

Following is a transcript of UN Secretary-General-designate António Guterres’ remarks at a press encounter, in New York today:

After 10 years of serving the most vulnerable of the vulnerable, refugees fleeing from all conflicts around the world, it is an enormous privilege and I feel humbled for this opportunity to go on serving the international community.  I believe it is high time to reconcile the people with political leaders and international organizations, to rebuild trust in our international community.

I feel that we need to put prevention in the centre of our work, to make sure that we bring together peace and development, together with human rights, and make sure that these three pillars of the UN are seen as a combination, are seen in an integrated manner in everything we do.  And we need a surge in the diplomacy for peace when we see this multiplication of new conflicts and the old conflicts that seem never to die.  At the same time, we need to make sure that we are able to reform — to reform our peace architecture from prevention to the solution of conflicts to peacekeeping to peacebuilding and to long-term development.  And simultaneously, to mobilize the entire UN system, reforming the UN development system to be able to support Member States as they will do their best to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals and to make sure that the Paris Agreement becomes a reality, allowing us all to tame climate change.  Simultaneously, to make sure that human rights will be able to prevail in our common world.  And that the UN is able to reform itself, to become more nimble, more flexible, with processes more simplified and decentralized and more able to be effective and cost-effective in the service of mankind.

This is a very ambitious agenda, an agenda that must be an agenda for both women and men, and that is why parity is so important in our reform perspectives and that is why the empowerment of women is so important in everything the UN will be doing around the world.

As I said, I feel humbled with this opportunity and the only thing I want is to be able to correspond to the expectations that you put in me, serving our common humanity.

I am [at] your disposal for a few questions.

Question:  Thank you, your Excellency.  It’s Pamela Falk from CBS News.

Secretary-General-designate:  Without excellencies.

Question:  Yes.  [laughter]  All right.  Secretary-General-designate, Pamela Falk, CBS News.  My question to you is how do you plan to shake up the UN in order to restore confidence, as you said?  And what would be your message if and when you meet with the President-elect of the United States?  Thank you.

Secretary-General-designate:  Well, to restore confidence, I think the first thing that is important is to tell the truth.  Sometimes the truth is ignored in political relations around the world.  And when people talk to each other, the truth is that many times there are different perceptions about each other.  To tell the truth is the only way to re-establish confidence in human relations.  It’s the only way to re-establish confidence in international relations.  And I believe it is with truth that I need to engage with all Governments in the world and, of course, also with the next Government of the United States, showing a clear will to cooperate in relation to the enormous challenges that we’ll be facing together.

Correspondent:  Thank you.

Mr. Thomas:  Al Jazeera, Mike.

Question:  Your Excellency…

Secretary-General-designate:  No excellencies, please.

Question:  Your most immediate challenge is going to be the situation in Aleppo.  Your predecessor has been insistent that there is no military solution there, yet Aleppo’s days away from falling.  Would you do anything differently?  What do you think must be done?

Secretary-General-designate:  Well, obviously, I think it is very important in relation to the Syrian crisis, Aleppo and the Syrian crisis in general, but also other crises that we are facing.  It is very important to mobilize all efforts in order to be able to have what I call the surge of diplomacy for peace.

And my intention is to serve, is to be available, to help bridge the relations between the key stakeholders in the conflict, to be an honest broker, creating the conditions for confidence, also to be re-established in relation to those [actors/stakeholders] that are more relevant in each of these conflicts.

I know the Secretary-General is not the leader of the world.  I know that the role of the Secretary-General is just to be conceived as an added value.  The primacy of the work comes to Member States.  But I will be there to support all Member States that, using goodwill, understand that now it’s time to bring those conflicts to an end.

I remember when I was in school and I was reading history books; all wars had a winner.  We are now facing wars in which nobody wins.  Everybody’s losing.  And if you look at the Syria crisis, the Syria crisis is not only a tragedy for the Syrian people that is suffering in a horrible way, and the Syrian people that I will never forget was extremely generous hosting refugees from around the country in an extremely open and positive way.

So it’s not only a terrible suffering for the Syrian people; it became a factor for instability in the region that we all recognize, and it is clearly one of the elements that has more dramatically contributed to this new threat of global terrorism.

So this is a war in which everybody’s losing, not only in the region but around the world.  And so whatever the contradictions that exist between Member States, whatever the different perspectives that might exist, I think that there is a value that is above all.  The value of peace in Syria corresponds to a necessity for us all, and I hope I will be able to bring people together to this understanding.

As I said, this is a war in which nobody’s winning.  This is a war in which everybody’s losing.  This became a threat for everybody around the world.  It’s high time to put an end to this nonsense.

Mr. Thomas:  A question from Portugal.

Question:  [in Portuguese]  Antes de mais parabéns.  Gostava de lhe perguntar como é que antecipa a relação das Nações Unidas com um dos países mais influentes ao nível da comunidade internacional, os Estados Unidos, sobre a nova administração…?

Secretary-General-designate:  [in Portuguese]  Com a necessidade para mim evidente em relação a todas, a todos os contactos que temos com quaisquer outros países a necesiddade de estabelecer uma plataforma de cooperação, baseada na vontade que temos de reformar as Nações Unidas, de fazer das Nações Unidas uma organização mais eficiente, com maior capacidade de responder às necessidades do mundo presente e que seja um valor acrescentado para todos incluindo para os interesses das principais potências e nomeadamente aquela que nos acolhe aqui em Nova Iorque.

Question:  You have laid out quite a large agenda.  Would you please lay out the first 100 days in office?  What are the most important items on this agenda?

Secretary-General-designate:  Sorry?

Question:  The 100… the most important items on the agenda for the 100 first days of office.

Secretary-General-designate:  I think that one very important element of the agenda will be to give a clear signal that gender parity is a must, and so, in the appointments I’ll be making, and the first ones will be announced soon, you will see that gender parity will become a clear priority from top to bottom in the UN.  And it will have to be respected by all.

Mr. Thomas:  There’s a final question from China.

Question:  Your Excellency, I’m from China Central Television.  My question is, what do you think about China’s role in the UN?  What’s your expectation for cooperation between China and the UN?

Secretary-General-designate:  In my recent visit to China, it was very clear the commitment of the Chinese President and the Chinese Government to multilateralism, to strengthen multilateral institutions around the world.  And the recent announcements made by China in relation to both the creation of funds, the creation of a new bank, the One Belt, One Road initiative all show that China is strongly engaged in creating or helping create the conditions for an effective multilateral approach to global development, leaving no one behind, as it is the objective of Agenda 2030.

Thank you very much.  Thank you.

For information media. Not an official record.