New UN chief wants to ‘put peace first’

Staff Correspondent | Update:

António Guterres, who has taken over as United Nations 9th secretary-general in the new year, called on the global community to work for overcoming violent differences in search of long-lasting peace.

Appalled by sufferings of millions in conflicts in today’s world, he insisted that “Peace must be our goal and our guide.”

In his ‘appeal for peace’ issued in New York on Sunday, he wrote: “Let us make 2017 a year in which we all - citizens, governments, leaders - strive to overcome our differences,”.

“From solidarity and compassion in our daily lives, to dialogue and respect across political divides… From ceasefires on the battlefield, to compromise at the negotiating table to reach political solutions…”

The new UN secretary-general mentioned that the question that “weighs heavily on my heart” on the first day as UN chief is: “How can we help the millions of people caught up in conflict, suffering massively in wars with no end in sight?”

“All that we strive for as a human family - dignity and hope, progress and prosperity - depends on peace...  But peace depends on us,” he noted.

António Guterres, a former prime minister of Portugal who has succeeded Ban Ki-moon, said women, children and men are killed and injured, forced from their homes, dispossessed and destitute. “Even hospitals and aid convoys are targeted.”

He also regretted that trillions of dollars are spent for destroying societies and economies, fueling cycles of mistrust and fear that can last for generations.

“Whole regions are destabilised and the new threat of global terrorism affects us all,” added the UN chief.

António Guterres has already expressed his determination to serve as a peace broker, a bridge-builder and a promoter of reform and innovation.

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