The nomination of Antonio Guterres as next UN secretary-general came despite efforts by some politicians for the role to go to a woman, or to someone from eastern Europe. António Guterres is a Portuguese politician and diplomat who is elected to serve as the ninth Secretary General of the United Nations from 1 January 2017.
His Personal Information:
Guterres was born and raised in Lisbon, Portugal, the son of Virgílio Dias Guterres and his wife Ilda Cândida de Oliveira. His birth name is Antonio Manuel de Oliveira Guterres and he is 68 years old. He is married to Catarina Vaz Pinto. He has 3 children. In addition to his native Portuguese, Guterres speaks English, Spanish, and French.
He was educated at the Camões Lyceum where he graduated in 1965, winning the National Lyceums Award as the best student in the country. He studied Physics and Electrical Engineering at Instituto Superior Técnico in Lisbon. He graduated in 1971 and started an academic career as Assistant Professor teaching Systems Theory and Telecommunications Signals, before leaving academic life to start a political career.
In 1992, after the Socialists’ third consecutive defeat in Parliamentary elections, Guterres became Secretary-General of the Socialist Party and leader of the opposition during Aníbal Cavaco Silva’s government. At the time, he was the party’s third leader in six years. He was also selected as one of the 25 vice-presidents of the Socialist International in September 1992.
His election represented a break with tradition for the Socialists: not only was Guterres not associated with either the faction around then-President and former Prime Minister Mário Soares or the party’s left wing lead by Guterres’ predecessor Sampaio, but he was also a devout Catholic, running counter to the party’s historical secularism. He sought to consult with Portugal’s civil society in formulating policy, meeting a range of intellectuals, scientists and entrepreneurs from across the country and the political spectrum in the run-up to the next general election.
His political career peaked in 1995, when the Socialist Party won the general election and Guterres became Prime Minister of Portugal. He was re-elected in 1999, and from January to July 2000, he occupied the Presidency of the European Council.
Guterres once headed one of the world’s largest humanitarian organizations in position as high commissioner, which at the end of his term had more than 10,000 staff working in 126 countries providing protection and assistance to over 60 million refugees, returnees, internally displaced people and stateless persons. He served as the second-longest term as high commissioner in the organization’s history, after Prince Sadruddin Aga Khan, when he left office on 31 December 2015.
The bigger question might be whether the role matters, said Fred Fleitz, a former U.N. analyst for the CIA and the chief of staff for former U.N. ambassador John Bolton.
“The U.N. is more and more a nonentity,” Fleitz told The Daily Signal in a phone interview. “It’s used to justify actions, but because of the vetoes on the Security Council, there is no way to act on Syria or North Korea. I don’t know if this election matters.” Still, Fleitz said he believes the socialist background of the new secretary-general is relevant. “It should be concerning to have someone with that perspective for thinking along the lines of one-world government at a time when the world is moving away from that, if you look at the European Union,” Fleitz said.
What is within the secretary general’s power?
An overly ambitious agenda risks producing a backlash from member governments. And the secretary general has an incentive to let governments and independent experts guide the thought leadership, especially when it comes resolving politically sensitive issues.
But the secretary general does have the power to harness the U.N.’s considerable expertise and moral authority to spotlight important global issues. This is what Annan’s 1999 speech to the General Assembly did for humanitarian intervention, for instance.
The secretary general can shape negotiations and reforms by commissioning recommendations from prominent statesmen and experts — and separating out the touchy “third rails” that impede progress. The office also sits at the center of a web of global policy networks that can be leveraged to build a multi-stakeholder coalition of like-minded governments, companies and activists to make reform commitments and lobby governments to adopt and implement these recommendations.
And the United Nations can step in to demonstrate the benefits of proposed changes early on. For instance, as Ian Johnstone argues, Annan incorporated civilian protection into U.N. peace operation planning and proposals — even before member states adopted the Responsibility to Protect doctrine in 2005.
The secretary general can convene national leaders to create a sense of urgency — and push negotiators to come to agreement before their bosses arrive. Ban’s 2014 Climate Summit and Annan’s 2000 Millennium Summit are two such examples.
The new secretary general undoubtedly will be dealing with unprecedented challenges facing the world, including the surge of millions of displaced people and climate change. We as Jus Gentium International, will be following his works and actions taken by UN.