The UN Security Council on Thursday unanimously decided to recommend Antonio Guterres to head the United Nations for the next five years, starting from Jan.1, 2017.
The 15-nation council has delivered its decision to the UN General Assembly to formally appoint Guterres as the ninth secretary-general of the United Nations.
Under the UN Charter, the Secretary-General shall be appointed by the General Assembly upon the recommendation of the Security Council.
In practice, the Security Council will make the final choice and send a single candidate to the General Assembly for approval.
After the Security Council’s formal announcement, Guterres expressed his gratitude by making a statement at Portugal’s capital Lisbon, while saying he felt humility “to serve those most vulnerable” suffering from conflicts, poverty and injustices.
PROFILE OF ANTONIO GUTERRES
Guterres, a 67-year-old politician, served as UN High Commissioner for Refugees from June 2005 to December 2015.
During his tenure as head of UN refugee agency, known as UNHCR, he has tackled some of the largest displacement crises across the world in decades, particularly conflicts in Syria and Iraq.
Before joining UNHCR, Guterres spent more than 20 years in government and public service. He served as prime minister of Portugal from 1995 to 2002, during which time he was heavily involved in international effort to resolve the crisis in East Timor.
Guterres was active in Socialist International, a worldwide organization of social democratic political parties. He served as the group’s vice-president from 1992 to 1999.
Born in Lisbon in 1949, Guterres graduated from the Instituto Superior Tecnico of Portugal with a degree in electrical engineering. He is fluent in Portuguese, English, French and Spanish.
Guterres is married.
VISION TO GUIDE THE UNITED NATIONS
Guterres has presented his vision statement on the United Nations in April this year, in which he called the UN as “the institutional expression of the international community,” “the cornerstone of the international system” and “the key actor of effective multilateralism.”
On addressing conflicts worldwide, Guterres noted that the UN must uphold a commitment to a “culture of prevention” and need a “surge in diplomacy for peace” to ease tensions and facilitate peaceful solutions.
According to the statement, he has proposed that the UN shall increase cooperation and engagement with regional organizations, international financial institutions as well as the civil society and the private sector.
On reform of the UN system, Guterres noted reform is not a one-time action; it is a permanent attitude to make the UN less bureaucratic and more efficient, to simplify processes and avoid extra costs.
EXPECTATIONS FROM THE WORLD
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has said Guterres would be an excellent choice for the position of next UN secretary-general.
“He has a large experience as Portuguese prime minister, and a wide knowledge of world affairs, which would serve him well in leading the UN in a crucial period,” said Ban.
Russian UN Ambassador Vitaly Churkin, who is the Security Council president for October, said the council’s unanimous decision shows that Guterres would “rely on strong support of the Security Council” in the next five years.
Argentine Foreign Minister Susana Malcorra, also one of the secretary-general candidates, congratulated Guterres for being selected as next UN secretary-general.
“I wish him all the best in his position at the head of our UN,” she said via her official Twitter account. Enditem