Antonio Guterres: One formality away from the post of the UN Secretary-General

Antonio Guterres Photo: UNHCR/Jean-Marc Ferré

Antonio Guterres, former socialist Prime Minister of Portugal and until last year head of the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) has emerged as the broadly accepted choice to replace UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, whose term ends on 31 December 2016.

Mr. Guterres has been the frontrunner in all six informal votes held at the 15-member Security Council of the United Nations in New York in the recent months. Before that he had presented his vision for the United Nations to the 193 members of the UN General Assembly and had participated in debates and other events, as did the other declared candidates for the job.

This was part of a new process, which introduced much more transparency into the selection of the UN Secretary-General, up to now managed behind closed doors by the Security Council and in particular its five permanent members (USA, Russia, China, UK, France).

Many had hoped for a first female Secretary-General, and several expected a person from Eastern Europe, since this regional group of countries has never been represented in the high office.

However, the selection of Mr. Guterres brings to the office a seasoned politician and experienced UN official with a roundly respected record, who seems to have the skills and the vision to revitalise this “most impossible job in the world”. The fact that the USA and Russia in particular agreed to the selection of Mr. Guterres is a rare good sign at a time of escalating tensions between the two.

“The most impossible job in the world”

The 67-years-old Mr. Guterres will hopefully have the physical and moral stamina to stand up for the lofty ideals of the United Nations and facilitate progress in the areas of peace and security, sustainable development and human rights around the world.

His record will determine whether the office of the UN Secretary-General will keep on losing moral authority and relevance, as it unfortunately did under Mr. Ban Ki-moon, or will start playing the very important role that it should on issues like Syria and the refugee crisis, climate change (an area where Mr. Ban did admittedly well), gender issues, poverty and inequality.

The announcement of the Security Council members’ agreement on Mr. Guterres was announced on Wednesday, 5 October and has been unanimously nominated by acclamation at a Council meeting today. Then the Council’s recommendation will have to be accepted by the General Assembly, which appoints the Secretary-General according to the UN Charter.

If there is no last-minute reversal, something that is not foreseen, Mr. Guterres will soon be confirmed as Secretary-General-elect and will get engaged in a transition process that will allow him to choose his immediate priorities and his senior aides for running the UN as of 1 January 2017. wishes our fellow European and citizen of the world every success in discharging his global responsibilities.


The editorial team of Katoikos

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