The UN Security Council formally nominated Mr. Guterres as the ninth Secretary General last week, recommending that the 193-member General Assembly appoint him for five years from January 1, 2017.
At the time of writing, the General Assembly is likely to meet next week to approve the appointment of Mr. Guterres, 67, who would replace Mr. Ban, 72, of South Korea. Mr. Ban will step down at the end of 2016 after serving two terms.
Mr. Guterres, who is fluent in Portuguese, English, Spanish, and French, was the Prime Minister of Portugal from 1995 to 2002. Shortly after leaving office, he set sights on international diplomacy, becoming the UN’s High Commissioner for Refugees in 2005.
As reported by the BBC, it was under his guidance that the numbers working in the UNHCR’s Geneva head office were slashed. The staff cuts did not reduce the UNHCR’s operational capacity. In contrast, its capacity to respond to international crises by deploying more staff closer to hotspots was improved.
However, it was his tireless attempts to get the world’s richest countries to do more for those fleeing conflict and disaster around the world that people remember.
“We can’t deter people fleeing for their lives,” he wrote in Time magazine last year. “They will come. The choice we have is how well we manage their arrival, and how humanely.”
Such a narrative must have resonated with the problems faced in the world currently, given the refugee crisis in Syria.
Unsurprisingly, his appointment has drawn plaudits from various parts of the world, as many ambassadors and statesmen have revealed their faith in the incoming Secretary General.
“Antonio Guterres has shown … that he is the strongest candidate, he has a vision and a moral authority and integrity that put him at the top of the league table,” British UN Ambassador Matthew Rycroft told reporters,according to Reuters.
French UN Ambassador Francois Delattre said Mr. Guterres was “the right leader able to bring the nations and the community of nations together.”
US Ambassador to the United Nations, Samantha Power said Guterres was “an excellent choice” to oversee the United Nations during uncertain times because of his “extensive track record solving real world problems, his deep empathy for those in need, and the respect he has earned in all corners of the world.”