When South Korea’s Ban Ki-Moon’s term as Secretary-general of the United Nations end later this year he will be replaced by Antonio Guterres, from Portugal. He was the Prime Minister of Portugal from 1992 to 2002 and was formally appointed as the next Secretary General of the UN, in other words world’s top Diplomat on Thursday, 13th of October.
An experienced politician he was the leader of U.N.’s refugee agency for almost a decade until 2015. He will be sworn in on the January 1st 2017.
Chosen from among the 13 candidates up for the post, Guterres was praised as a good choice by Russian Ambassador to U. N. Vitaly Churkin. He characterised Guterres as open minded and someone who talked and listened to everyone.
Guterres reacted to the appointment later in the day. He promised to act as an ‘honest broker’ in trying to humbly deal with global issues. He said that human dignity would be the core of his work. He also commented that diversity could bring people together instead of driving them apart.
Guterres takes over at a time when the world is faced with uncertainty in terms or extremism and xenophobia. UK’s exist from the European Union, the rise of ISIS, radicalisation of fringe elements across the world, the humanitarian atrocities being committed in Africa and all over the world and the Wars in the Middle East, all pose a considerable challenge in trying to manage world diplomacy.
Guterres addressed the uncertainty of the times and said that Peace will be his top priority. He talked about the importance of breaking the alliance between all the terrorist groups and extremists and the expression of populism and xenophobia. He said that these elements reinforced each other and a determined fight was necessary to fight off both.
He also said that the protection and empowerment of Women was a priority commitment and pledged to work to bridge the gender divide within the U.N. This comes on the background of expectations that this could have been the first time a woman Secretary General would be appointed by the U.N. Out of the 13 people in contention seven were reported to be women. Guterres’s appointment however was unanimously done.
Diplomats will now look to the high level appointments Guterres will make. The appointments to handle Peace keeping, Political affairs and Humanitarian affairs are of a keen interest to China and Russia.