Portugal’s Guterres Wins Unanimous Backing to Lead the UN

By Kambiz Foroohar — October 5, 2016


Former Portuguese Prime Minister Antonio Guterres is the unanimous choice of the United Nations Security Council to serve as the world body’s next secretary-general.

The 67-year-old former head of the UN’s refugee agency will be formally “acclaimed” Thursday as the candidate recommended to the General Assembly, Russian Ambassador Vitaly Churkin, the council’s president this month, announced. U.S. Ambassador Samantha Power added on Twitter that the council had united around the choice. The Assembly’s approval is considered a formality.

Guterres secured 13 “yes” votes in the 15-member council, with two members undecided, ending nine months of cocktail-party campaigning, formal and informal interviews and visits to capitals. In January, Guterres will succeed Ban Ki-moon of South Korea as leader of the 71-year-old institution with 105,000 peacekeepers deployed around the world and an annual budget of more than $13 billion.

“Guterres faces very serious challenges especially the Syrian civil war and the humanitarian consequences of refugees fleeing that war,” said Michael Doyle, a Columbia University professor and a former UN assistant secretary-general. “The international community is divided on important issues and that limits what he can get done.”

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