Likely new UN secretary-general sees 'huge challenges' ahead


LISBON, Portugal – The United Nations’ probable next secretary-general said Thursday he faces “huge challenges” and hopes to see unity and consensus during his expected term at the international body.

Antonio Guterres praised the U.N. Security Council for its swiftness and unity in approving him by acclamation in a formal vote earlier in the day.

“I sincerely hope that that was symbolic and displays an increased ability on the part of the Security Council to — through unity and consensus — be able to take the swift decisions which the troubled world we live in demands,” Guterres said in a brief statement at the Foreign Ministry in Lisbon.

Guterres, 67, a former Portuguese prime minister who for 10 years was the U.N. high commissioner for refugees, is almost certain to replace Ban Ki-moon as secretary-general. He said his focus as U.N. chief would be on helping the victims of war, poverty and injustice.

He spoke without notes in Portuguese, English, French and Spanish. He did not take reporters’ questions.

“I have just two words to express my feelings at this moment: humility and gratitude,” Guterres said.

He praised the “intelligence and dedication and commitment” of his rivals for the secretary-general post as well as the Portuguese diplomats who campaigned for him.

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