The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) has unanimously supported former Portuguese premier, Antonio Guterres, to be the next secretary general of the world body. During a closed-door meeting on Thursday, the 15-member council adopted a resolution formally recommending that the UN General Assembly appoint Guterres for a five-year term from January 1, 2017. The 67-year-old socialist politician will take over from Ban Ki-moon of South Korea, who will step down at the end of 2016 after serving two terms.
UNSC’s unanimous backing for Guterres on Thursday followed an informal vote the previous day during which 13 of the 15 members supported his candidacy. A vote by the General Assembly’s 193 member states to endorse Guterres is expected to be held next week, probably on Thursday.
“I have two words to describe what I’m feeling now: gratitude and humility,” Guterres said in a statement in the Portuguese capital, Lisbon, adding, “Humility (is what I feel) 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.”
Speaking in Rome, Ban also hailed Guterres as a “superb choice,” noting that the Portuguese politician’s “wide knowledge of world affairs and lively intellect will serve him well in leading the UN in a critical period.”
Guterres served as the Portuguese prime minister from 1995 to 2002 and United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees from 2005 to 2015. He will be the first former head of government to become the UN chief.