New York

13 October 2016

Secretary-General's remarks at General Assembly Plenary Meeting on the Appointment of António Guterres as Secretary-General-designate of the United Nations

Before turning to our agenda item, I would like to offer my deep condolences to the Royal family, Government and people of Thailand on the passing of H.M. King Bhumibol Adulyadej.

H.M. King Bhumibol was revered by the people of Thailand as a unifying national leader.  He was also highly respected internationally. 

At this time of sorrow and loss, I hope that Thailand will continue to honour King Bhumibol’s legacy of commitment to universal values and respect for human rights.

Mr. President,
Your Excellency Mr. António Guterres, Secretary-General-designate of the United Nations,
Your Excellency Mr. Augusto Ernesto dos Santos Silva, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Portugal,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

Above all, Mr. Secretary-General-designate, congratulations … félicitations … felicitaciones …   parabéns!  

I commend the Member States not only for their choice, but for the way in which they went about it.

The first-ever public hearings on the selection of a Secretary-General opened the process to the world.

Several highly qualified women and men were given a unique platform from which to share their vision and answer questions from the diplomatic community and civil society.  

These new steps established a new benchmark of openness and engagement.

Secretary-General-designate Guterres is well known to all of us in the hall.  But he is perhaps best known where it counts most: on the frontlines of armed conflict and humanitarian suffering.

For the past decade, the work of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and other humanitarian actors has been a lifeline for millions upon millions of people forced from their homes.  

They also delivered something else: compassion.

That same solidarity was at the heart of the High Commissioner’s effective advocacy around the globe.

Mr. Guterres also brings deep and solid political experience, including his two terms of service as Prime Minister of Portugal.  

His political instincts are those of the United Nations – cooperation for the common good, and shared responsibility for people and the planet.

He recognizes the crucial importance of women’s empowerment, from peace tables to the halls of this house.

As an active participant in the Senior Management Group and Chief Executives Board, he understands the inner workings of our Organization.

I have long valued his advice, and long admired his spirit of service.  He is a wonderful choice to steer this Organization as we build on the progress of the past decade while addressing the insecurity and uncertainties of today’s world. 

Mr. Secretary-General-designate, 

You have often shared your feeling of privilege to be part of the United Nations.  

Despite all the challenges, you said, “this is still the best place in the world to work”.

After ten years, I could not agree more.  

Today's ceremony is also poignant for me since it takes place ten years to the day of my own election in 2006.

As I prepare to hand over the baton of leadership, I know that Member States, the outstanding women and men of the United Nations, and the people of the world are all looking forward to your tenure with confidence and excitement.  

Best wishes for your great success. Congratulations. Parabéns!  

Thank you very much.