In a New Year’s message to the world, United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres issued a “red alert,” not an “appeal”, urging world leaders to unite against multiple issues that afflict our planet and its inhabitants today.
“On New Year’s Day 2018, I am not issuing an appeal. I am issuing an alert, a red alert, for our world,” Guterres said in a recorded message, reaching out to a global audience.
Lamenting about a world that has “gone in reverse,” the UN numero uno warned about the deepening conflicts, and emerging new dangers, and “global anxieties about nuclear weapons” being the “highest since the Cold War.”
He expressed his own anxiety over growing inequalities and climate change, which he said is “moving faster than we are.”
He worried about “horrific violations of human rights” and “rising nationalism and xenophobia,” calling for unity.
“I truly believe we can make our world more safe and secure. We can settle conflicts, overcome hatred and defend shared values. But we can only do that together,” he said, urging global leaders “everywhere” to make a New Year’s resolution to come together to address shared issues and achieve “common goals.”
“I urge leaders everywhere to make this New Year’s resolution: Narrow the gaps. Bridge the divides. Rebuild trust by bringing people together around common goals. Unity is the path. Our future depends on it,” he said, signing off his “red alert” with, “I wish you peace and health in 2018,” thanking his intended viewers in English, Arabic, Chinese, French, Russian, Spanish and Portuguese.
“Thank you. Shokran. Xie Xie. Merci. Spasiba. Gracias. Obrigado.”
As we begin 2018, I am issuing a red alert for our world. I call for unity – our future depends on it. pic.twitter.com/fWtTa1irM3
— António Guterres (@antonioguterres) December 31, 2017
The ninth United Nations Secretary-General António Manuel de Oliveira Guterres is a diplomat and politician of Portuguese origin and has previously served as the UN High Commissioner for Refugees from 2005 until 2015.
He has also had the distinction of serving as Portugal’s Prime Minister from 1995 until 2002 and as the Socialist Party Secretary-General between 1992 and 2002. He was the President of Socialist International from 1999 to 2005.
When Cavaco Silva opted not to run for a fourth term as Portugal’s Prime Minister in 1995, after having completed a 10-year term – the longest by any prime minister of the country since António de Oliveira Salazar – António Guterres was appointed Prime Minister by President Soares after the Socialist Party emerged victorious in the 1995 parliamentary elections.
Guterres served as UN High Commissioner from June 2005 until December 31, 2015, a period devoted to organizational reform, controlling staff and administrative expenses at the UNHCR head office in Geneva.
He was instrumental in expanding the UNHCR emergency response capabilities at a time when the world was witnessing the worst displacement crisis since World War II.
When he finally finished his term at the end of 2015, the UNCHR had a workforce of 10,000 people working in 126 countries around the world, ensuring protection and assistance to more than 60 million displaced people.
Antonio Guterres has been the recipient of some of the highest honors from several countries over the years. Here they are:
- Belgium: Grand Cordon of the Order of Leopold (9 October 2000)
- Brazil: Grand Cross of the Order of the Southern Cross (23 July 1996)
- Cape Verde: First Degree of the Order of Amílcar Cabral (27 April 2001)
- France: Grand Cross of the National Order of Merit (4 February 2002)
- Chile: Grand Cross of the Order of Merit (30 September 2001)
- Greece: Grand Cross of the Order of Honour (17 March 2000)
- Italy: Grand Cross of the Order of Merit of the Italian Republic (3 December 2001)
- Japan: Grand Cordon of the Order of the Rising Sun (2002)
- Mexico: Sash of Special Category of the Order of the Aztec Eagle (2 July 1999)
- Poland: Grand Cross of the Order of Merit of the Republic of Poland (22 September 1997)
- Portugal: Grand Cross of the Order of Christ (9 June 2002)
- Spain: Collar of the Order of Isabella the Catholic (14 June 2002)
- Spain: Grand Cross of the Order of Charles III (8 September 2000)
- Tunisia: Grand Cordon of the Order of the Republic (2002)
- Uruguay: Grand Officer of the Order of the Oriental Republic of Uruguay (10 December 1998)