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Outgoing Secretary General of the United Nations, Ban Ki-Moon

UN Secretary-General-designate and former Prime Minister of Portugal, António Guterres, will be sworn-in today, Monday, Dec. 12, as the next secretary-general.

A statement issued by Mr Dan Thomas, Communications Director and Spokesperson of the President of the General Assembly, said António would be succeeding outgoing secretary-general Ban Ki-moon, who steps down on Dec. 31.

Guterres, 67, was Prime Minister of Portugal from 1995 to 2002, and the UN High Commissioner for Refugees from June 2005 to December 2015.

He will become the world’s top diplomat on Jan. 2017, and hold that post for the next five years.

He was formally appointed by the General Assembly on Oct. 13, in what was the culmination of an historic process Member States set in motion late last year.

The historic process for the selection of a new UN Secretary-General, traditionally decided behind closed-doors by a few powerful countries, for the first time in history involved public discussions with each candidate campaigning for the UN’s ninth chief.

The “informal briefings” between the candidates, UN Member States and civil society representatives, kicked off on April 12 when the first three candidates presented their ‘vision statements’ and answered questions on how they would promote sustainable development, improve efforts to create peace, protect human rights, and deal with huge humanitarian catastrophes– should they be selected to lead the UN.

In October, thanking the Assembly for appointing him as the next secretary-general, Guterres said he was grateful to the Member States for their trust in him, as well as for the transparent and open selection process they undertook.

The Secretary-General-designate said, “I believe this process means that the true winner today is the credibility of the UN.

“And it also makes it very clear to me that, as secretary-general, having been chosen by all Member States, I must be at the service of them all equally and with no agenda but the one enshrined in the UN Charter”.

Monday’s ceremony, at which Guterres would take the oath of office, would also see the 193-member General Assembly pay tribute to outgoing secretary-general Ban Ki-moon for his exceptional contribution to the work of the UN over the past decade.

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