Permanent Mission of Portugal to the United Nations

Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Address by H. E. the President of the Portuguese Republic, Professor Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, at the reception in honor of the United Nations Secretary-General-designate António Guterres

United Nations, New York, 12 December 2016

Dear Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, Dear Mrs. Ban,
Dear Secretary-General-designated, António Guterres,
Dear Mrs. Catarina Vaz Pinto,
Dear President of the General-Assembly,
Dear Representatives of UN Member States,
Dear guests,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

Let me start by thanking the Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, for being here with us on this particular occasion. And let me join all those that this morning have conveyed to you our deepest respect and praise for your work at the helm of the United Nations for the last ten years. The consensus on the 2030 Agenda and the Paris Climate Agreement are only two recent landmarks that will last as prove of your vision. Your devotion to the ideals embedded in the UN Charter will remain a powerful inspiration for all of us. As you approach a new phase in your so distinguished career I wish you, and Mrs. Ban, all the successes in your political and personal life.

Dear friends, this is a very special occasion for Portugal, which is deeply committed to multilateralism and to the UN. I want to thank all of you for sharing with us this particular moment of honor and pride. Honor, for seeing a Portuguese citizen be chosen, who is someone we all learned to respect, to trust and to admire. Pride because having presented António Guterres as a candidate for the post of Secretary-General was the best possible contribution we could have made to mark the 60th anniversary of Portugal´s accession to the United Nations. I have been a close friend with António Guterres since our University times and witnessed his fights for peace, democracy, justice and development. His social concerns, working to lift living conditions, namely in the slums around Lisbon in the 60s His intelligence, his deep knowledge of international relations and his ability to find different ways of looking at difficult problems have attracted everyone’s attention, but I think that far more important is his determined affirmative compassion and having human dignity as his driving force.

We are aware that long standing and huge emerging challenges remain ahead. The UN must be able to adapt itself to respond to the new challenges in a way that fulfills its mandate and people´s expectations. And it can only succeed with a strong leadership and the commitment and support of all the Member States.

Dag Hammarskjold once said that “Everything will be all right - you know when? When people, just people, stop thinking of the United Nations as a weird Picasso abstraction and see it as a drawing they made themselves.”

In other words, the United Nations is a reflection of the world as it is and not as we want it to be. Its credibility derives from the fact that it represents the global community of nations. The same nations represented here today, having unanimously appointed António Guterres to steer the Organization through the next 5 years. Indeed, an enormous challenge, the one that you have been entrusted with.

I would ask you all to join me in a toast to wish United Nations Secretary-General-designate António Guterres good success in his future endeavors. Your success will be our success.

Reception by President of Portugal in honour of Secretary-General-designate António Guterres

Photo: UN/Rick Bajornas

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