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New UN chief has New Year’s resolution: ‘Put peace first’

Pope Francis spoke to children dressed as Magi during a Mass at St. Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican on Sunday.TIZIANA FABITIZIANA FABI/AFP/Getty Images

UNITED NATIONS — Antonio Guterres took the reins of the United Nations on New Year’s Day, making it clear that his top priority will be preventing crises and promoting peace.

In the first minute after taking over as UN secretary-general, Guterres issued an ‘‘Appeal for Peace.’’ He urged all people in the world to make a shared New Year’s resolution: ‘‘Let us resolve to put peace first.’’

‘‘Let us make 2017 a year in which we all — citizens, governments, leaders — strive to overcome our differences,’’ he said.

Guterres has said there is enormous difficulty in solving conflicts, a lack of ‘‘capacity’’ in the international community to prevent conflicts, and the need to develop ‘‘the diplomacy for peace,’’ which he plans to focus on.


Guterres has said he will also strive to deal with the inequalities that globalization and technological progress have helped deepen, creating joblessness and despair especially among youth.

When the former Portuguese prime minister and UN refugee chief was sworn in to the new job last month, Guterres promised to be a bridge-builder, but he is facing an antagonistic incoming US administration under Donald Trump, who thinks the world body’s 193 member states do nothing but talk.

As Guterres begins his five-year term facing conflicts from Syria and Yemen to South Sudan and Libya and global crises from terrorism to climate change, US support for the United Nations remains a question mark.

And its support is crucial because the United States is a veto-wielding member of the UN Security Council and pays 22 percent of the UN’s regular budget and 25 percent of its peacekeeping budget.

At the Vatican on Sunday, Pope Francis declared in his New Year’s Day greetings that 2017 will be good if people do good and reject hatred, as he prayed for those courageously dealing with terrorism gripping the world in ‘‘fear and bewilderment.’’


‘‘The new year will be good in the measure in which each of us, with the help of God, tries to do good, day by day, that’s how peace is created,’’ Francis told a crowd of 50,000 pilgrims, tourists, and Romans gathered in St. Peter’s Square for his noon blessing and remarks.

Francis advised people to ‘‘say no to hate and violence and yes to brotherhood and reconciliation.’’ The Roman Catholic Church dedicates the first day of the year to the theme of peace.

President Obama, who is on vacation with his family in Hawaii, started New Year’s Day with a morning trip to a research institution that promotes understanding on people in the United States, Asia, and the Pacific. The president met Richard R. Vuylsteke, the incoming president of the East West Center on the University of Hawaii campus at Manoa.

Obama spent New Year’s Eve playing a round of golf with three friends at the Kaneohe Marine base near his vacation rental in Kailua.

President-elect Donald Trump rang in the new year Saturday night at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Fla. He was joined by joined by actor Sylvester Stallone and several wealthy developers.

Trump has spent the last two weeks at his 118-room private club, which has had a parade of visitors since his victory in November.

Instead of holding interviews with corporate executives and potential Cabinet members at his transition office at Trump Tower in New York, Trump has hosted them at his mansion .