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April 28, 2017

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'Whole new approach' to prevent war: UN chief

UNITED NATIONS, United States -- U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Tuesday called for a "whole new approach" to prevent war, vowing to boost the world body's mediation capacity to tackle global conflicts.

Making his first address to the Security Council since taking office, Guterres said too much time and too many resources were being spent on responding to crises rather than preventing them.

"People are paying too high a price," he said. "We need a whole new approach."

The ex-prime minister of Portugal and former head of the U.N. refugee agency took over from Ban Ki-moon on Jan. 1 with a promise to shake up the world body.

But Guterres is confronted with a deeply divided Security Council that has notably been unable to take decisive action to end the nearly six-year war in Syria, where more than 310,000 people have been killed.

The rules-based international order "is under grave threat," he said, describing the U.N. response to global crises as "fragmented."

Guterres announced plans to launch an initiative to enhance mediation as part of his commitment to a "surge in diplomacy for peace," but he did not offer details.

The 67-year-old diplomat-in-chief is expected to have a more hands-on approach than his predecessor Ban who left most of the mediation efforts to his special envoys.

He encouraged the Security Council to invoke article six of the U.N. charter, which allows it to investigate disputes and lay out procedures for a settlement.

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

"Today, we need to demonstrate leadership, and strengthen the credibility and authority of the United Nations, by putting peace first," he said, renewing his pledge to make 2017 "a year for peace."

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