The United Nations Security Council on Thursday unanimously nominated former Portuguese Prime Minister Antonio Guterres to be the next Secretary-General, recommending that the 193-member General Assembly appoint him for five years from Jan. 1, 2017.
The General Assembly is likely to meet next week to approve the appointment of Guterres, 67, who would replace Ban Ki-moon, 72, of South Korea. Ban will step down at the end of 2016 after serving two terms.
"Gratitude, but also humility when facing dramatic problems of today’s world. Humility that is needed to serve," Guterres said in a short statement in Lisbon, which he repeated in various languages. "Especially to serve those that are most vulnerable, the victims of conflict, of terrorism, the victims of the violation of rights. The victims of poverty and the injustices of this world."
"I hope this represents a symbolic moment, a moment in which the Security Council enhances its capacity to act in unity and consensus creating the conditions to decide timely in relation to the dramatic problems of our time," Guterres said.
Ban, speaking during a visit to Rome, described Guterres as a "super choice" as his successor.
"I am sure he will carry the torch on the full range of key challenges, from strengthening peace operations to achieving sustainable development, upholding human rights and easing humanitarian suffering," Ban told reporters.
Guterres was prime minister of Portugal from 1995 to 2002 and served as United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees from 2005 to 2015.
"He has great United Nations credentials ... and being High Commissioner for Refugees means traveling the world and seeing some of the most gruesome conflicts we have to deal with and then of course he is a high-level politician," said Russian U.N. Ambassador Vitaly Churkin, president of the council for October.
"He is a person who talks to everybody, listens to everybody, speaks his mind, a very outgoing, open person so I think it was a great choice and I'm glad that we rallied around Mr Guterres," Churkin told reporters.
The council met behind closed doors on Thursday to adopt a two-paragraph resolution recommending to the General Assembly that Guterres be appointed.
"Antonio Guterres has shown ... that he is the strongest candidate, he has a vision and a moral authority and integrity that put him at the top of the league table," British U.N. Ambassador Matthew Rycroft told reporters.
French U.N. Ambassador Francois Delattre said Guterres was "the right leader able to bring the nations and the community of nations together."
U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power said Guterres was "an excellent choice" to oversee the United Nations during uncertain times because of his "extensive track record solving real world problems, his deep empathy for those in need, and the respect he has earned in all corners of the world."
Yes, our world is in a worse shape today than ever before with the rise of fascist leaders in many parts of the western world, and murderous regimes in some parts of the Middle East, and a total disregard for human lives in many parts of the world. There are millions of refugees living under inhuman conditions in Asia and Africa with the bulk of the task shouldered by states in the affected regions, and not Europe and Americas. Guterres has been intimately involved about the plight of the Rohingyas of Myanmar. Like all other refugees, they need help, peace, shelter and security.
The global refugee crisis will be one of the biggest challenges awaiting Guterres when he takes up his post on January 1, 2017. As a former United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees from 2005 to 2015, he knows this better than anyone, and I am hopeful that he will do the needful to make our world a better place to live in peace and harmony.
Ban Ki-moon’s term expires December 31st. Guterres will take over on January 1, for an initial five-year term, with the possibility of a second five-year term.