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New UN Secretary-General Guterres calls for 'whole new approach' to prevent war

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres gave his first speech in the position to the Security Council Tuesday. Guterres wants the UN to stop merely responding to conflict and do more to prevent it in the first place.

addressed the UN Security Council for the first time. In his first speech to the UN Security Council on Tuesday, recently appointed UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said too much effort went towards responding to conflicts instead of preventing them.

"Preventative action is essential to avert mass atrocities or grave abuses of human rights. And we can achieve this only through reasoned discussion, based on facts and the pursuit of truth," said Guterres.

Guterres assumed the Secretary-General role on January 1, following the two-term tenure of Ban Ki-Moon. The former Portuguese prime minister and head of the UN refugee agency laid out the benefits of prevention over later intervention.

"Prevention is best served by strong sovereign states, acting for the good of their people," he said.

Guterres added the UN was "under grave threat" and demanded greater use of Chapter 6 of the UN Charter, which gives the international organization the ability to investigate and recommend ways to end conflict. He pledged to make 2017 "a year of peace."

"We will launch an initiative to enhance our mediation capacity, both at the United Nations Headquarters and in the field, and to support regional and national mediation efforts," said Guterres.

Watch video 01:07

Melissa Fleming on expectations from new UN chief Antoni Guterres

Deadlock

The UN Security Council has reached an impasse over the ongoing war in Syria, which has placed members Russia and China against the US, France and the UK. The Security Council has been split over the conflicts in South Sudan, Burundi and Yemen, among others.

In one of her final addresses to the council, US Ambassador Samantha Power said there was still work to be done.

"It is obvious that we as a council can do better," she said.

With a long and difficult list of conflicts, Guterres hopes his initiative to expand mediation at the UN will help member countries work together without questioning each other.

"Too many prevention opportunities have been lost because member states mistrusted each other's motives, and because of concerns over national sovereignty," said Guterres.

kbd/rt (AFP, AP, Reuters)

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