Who Is The New U.N. Secretary-General?

By Robin Young — October 6, 2016

WBUR’s Here & Now

The United Nations Security Council today approved Portugal’s former prime minister, Antonio Guterres, as the next U.N. secretary-general, replacing Ban Ki Moon.

Guterres served 10 years as the U.N. high commissioner for refugees, a role he believes has prepared him to serve as secretary general.

Here & Now‘s Robin Young speaks with Michael Doyle, a former U.N. assistant secretary-general, about Guterres and the role he will play on the world stage.

On what Guterres brings to the job:

“I think it’s an excellent choice. He brings three really important traits to the job. No. 1, he was the prime minister — he was the head of government of Portugal, so he brings political talents, which is essential for the role. No. 2, he headed a very important multilateral agency — the High Commission for Refugees. So he knows the U.N. system and he’s dealt with crises. No. 3, he has the ability to inspire — I’ve seen him speak to audiences, including students, professors and others. And he can lighten up a room and to persuade people to do the kind of things that are sometimes difficult.”

On the process of electing the secretary-general:

“Many people around the U.N., including myself, think it’s a high time we have a female secretary-general. And there were some strong candidates. But the key factor that produced the person is the votes of the members of the Security Council, and they make a choice based upon their national interest together with what they think is best for the institution. And often, the first one is the strongest.”

Access the full article, including audio of the complete interview, here.