Former refugee agency boss Gueterres to succeed Ban Ki-Moon at the UN
The former United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, António Guterres is set to become the next United Nations Secretary-General after the Portuguese received backing of the United Nations Security council.
Representatives of the 15 members of the Council, including the five veto-wielding permanent members, decided to send Guterres’s name to the General Assembly for final approval.
The Security Council had the previous day held a straw poll in which Guterres garnered a big margin of victory. He won 13 votes in his support and two abstentions, with no one voting against him.
Guterres victory came against strong feelings that the UN would get its first woman Secretary-General this time.
Pledged to help the vulnerable
According to international media reports, Guterres accepted the endorsement with “gratitude and humility,” and pledged to show “the humility that is needed to serve especially those that are most vulnerable,” victims of conflict, terrorism, human rights violations and poverty.
UNHCR, the refugee agency he headed for ten years until December 2015, hailed his appointment as the secretary-general.
His successor at UNHCR Filippo Grandi said: “We know that he will lead the United Nations with the vision, political skills and deep sense of humanity needed to make an unprecedented push for world peace.”
Faced with a surge in the number of people displaced by conflict and persecution, António Guterres skillfully managed UNHCR’s responses, introducing important reforms to make these more effective.
“But António Guterres was – above all – a tireless advocate for refugees, the internally displaced and the stateless, defending their rights in the field and at the highest political levels. He placed a strong emphasis on finding innovative solutions to help them find safety and a dignified life, as well as on pushing for an end to the conflicts driving so many people from their homes,” Grandi said.
“We at UNHCR are especially happy that the world’s most senior peacemaker will be somebody who knows so well the terrible human consequences of war.”