New UN Chief, Guterres Promises To Serve The “Most Vulnerable”


Former Portuguese Prime Minister, Antonio Guterres, formally nominated on Thursday to be the next UN secretary general, has promised to “serve the most vulnerable”.

The 67-year-old, who led the office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, UNHCR, for 10 years, was unanimously nominated by the UN Security Council yesterday, and will take over from Ban Ki-moon early next year.

Accepting the nomination, Guterres said “I have two words to describe what I’m feeling now – gratitude and humility.

“Humility about the huge challenges ahead of us, the terrible complexity of the modern world; but it is also humility that is required to serve the most vulnerable, victims of conflicts, of terrorism, rights violations, poverty and injustices of this world,” he said.

He paid tribute to Ban Ki-Moon and called on UN member-states to support the outgoing Secretary-General in his final months in office.

Speaking earlier, Ban Ki-Moon described Guterres as a “superb choice” to succeed him in the position.

“His experience as Portuguese prime minister, his wide knowledge of world affairs, and his lively intellect will serve him well in leading the United Nations in a crucial period,” Ki-Moon told reporters during a visit to Rome.

Guterres’ appointment was also welcomed by ‘The Elders’ – an independent group of global leaders started by Nelson Mandela but now chaired by former Secretary-General Kofi Annan.

“I am delighted by the outcome of the Council’s selection process,” Annan is quoted as saying.

Observing that Guterres is a highly-qualified and well-prepared candidate, the Ghanaian diplomat added, however, that he would need “the firm support of the Security Council as well as the wider membership of the United Nations to help him fulfil his mandate in these challenging times.”

Analysts say the incoming UN boss has a huge task ahead of him, chief of which would be how to find new ways to handle international crises after the UN’s failure to reduce the fighting in Syria and other places.



    Guterres’s nomination was formally agreed by all 15 council members during a closed-door meeting at the UN.

    He entered politics in 1976 in Portugal’s first democratic election after five decades of dictatorship, rising through the ranks to become leader of the Socialist party in 1992 and was elected prime minister in 1995.

    As head of the UN’s refugee agency, the UNHCR, from 2005 to 2015, Guterres was at the forefront of some of the world’s worst refugee crises, including Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq.

    Although his nomination was widely welcomed, there was disappointment among some campaigners who had hoped for the first female UN Secretary General.

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