- António Guterres from Portugal was officially sworn in as the new UN Secretary General
- He was the UN High Commissioner for Refugees and former Prime Minister of Portugal
- He will officially begin his term on January 1, 2017, replacing South Korea’s Ban Ki-moon
António Guterres from Portugal was officially sworn in as the ninth Secretary-General of the United Nations (UN), set to begin his term on January 1, 2017 and replacing South Korea’s Ban Ki-moon, who will be retiring after serving two full terms at the international organization.
Prior to this, Guterres served as the Prime Minister of Portugal from 1995 to 2002. He later was named the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) from 2005 to 2015.
“From the acute crises in Syria, Yemen, South Sudan and elsewhere, to long-running disputes including the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, we need mediation, arbitration as well as creative diplomacy. As part of my good offices I am ready to engage personally in conflict resolution where it brings added value,” Guterres told the UN General Assembly, in a speech previously quoted by Reuters.
Having served at the UNHCR, he was one of the most vocal supporters of the thousands of migrants from Africa and the Middle East who make the dangerous crossing to Europe; calling for a humane approach in handling the ongoing refugee crisis.
Guterres also holds the distinction of being the first former head of government to be selected as the leader of the international organization. Diplomats believe that his previous experience as Prime Minister will be reflected in how he is expected to take charge of the UN, especially as he is set to make appointments to various senior UN positions.
Insiders say he will be appointing Amina Mohammed, currently Minister of Environment of Nigeria, as his Deputy Secretary General. He is also expected to name a female chief of staff before he officially begins his term.
The UN Secretary General serves a term of five years; with eligibility for re-election. Currently, the organization is composed of 193 member states.