This moth, the 193-member United Nations General Assembly unanimously appointed former Portuguese Prime Minister Antonio Guterres as the ninth secretary-general of the would body for a five-year term that will begin on 1 January 2017.
Guterres, 57, will replace Ban Ki-moon, 72, of South Korea. Ban will step down at the end of 2016 after having served two five-year terms. Guterres was Portugal’s prime minister from 1995 until 2002 and UN High Commissioner for Refuges from 2005 until 2015. On 13 October, he pledged to act as an “honest broker” and stated that he would take a humble approach in trying to deal with global issues, in which human dignity will be at the core of his work. Speaking to the General Assembly, Guterres stated, “diversity can bring us together, not drive us apart…We must make sure that we are able to break this alliance between all those terrorist groups or violent extremists on one side and the expressions of populism and xenophobia on the other side,” adding, “these two reinforce each other, and we must be able to fight both of them with determination.”
At the start of this month, the 15-member UN Security Council unanimously recommended that the General Assembly appoint Guterres, who beat our twelve other candidates, seven of whom were women, amidst a push for the first woman to be elected.
Diplomats are now watching to see who Guterres will appoint to senior UN positions, amidst speculation by diplomats and UN officials that China would like one its nationals to head peacekeeping and that Russia is keen to lead political affairs. Currently, a French man runs peacekeeping, an American man leads political affairs and a British man is in charge of humanitarian affairs.