Security Council backs Guterres as next UN chief

UN Security Council unanimously nominates former Portuguese PM Antonio Guterres to be next secretary general.

    Guterres previously served as the prime minister of Portugal and the UN High Commissioner for Refugees [Reuters]
    Guterres previously served as the prime minister of Portugal and the UN High Commissioner for Refugees [Reuters]

    The United Nations Security Council has formally approved former Portuguese Prime Minister Antonio Guterres to replace Ban Ki-moon as UN secretary general.

    Security Council President Vitaly Churkin, Russia's UN ambassador, said Guterres was approved by acclamation for a five-year term during a closed-door meeting on Thursday.

    The Security Council's recommendation now goes to the UN's 193-member General Assembly, which is expected to vote on Ban's successor next week. Ban's second five-year term ends on December 31. 

    Portugal's Antonio Guterres set to take helm at UN

    Speaking during a visit to Rome, Ban 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.

    Reporting from the UN headquarters in New York City, Al Jazeera's James Bays said the selection of Guterres was a far cry from what some expected at the beginning, but his experience made him an obvious choice.

    "In the early days of the process, an eastern European or a woman, we were told, was what many in the United Nations wanted. What we've ended up with is a man from Western Europe," he said.

    "But I think the reason they went for Antonio Guterres is because of his experience. Yes, he's been a head of state … a peer with many world leaders, but also spent a decade heading the UN refugee agency."

    OPINION: People should have a say in electing the new UN head

    Guterres was prime minister of Portugal from 1995 to 2002 and served as United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees from 2005 to 2015. He was due to speak to reporters in Lisbon later on Thursday.

    "He has great United Nations credentials ... and being High Commissioner for Refugees means travelling 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 Churkin.

    "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."

    The UN Debate

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera News And Agencies


    YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

    Interactive: Take a tour through divided Jerusalem

    Interactive: Take a tour through divided Jerusalem

    Take a tour through East and West Jerusalem to see the difference in quality of life for Israelis and Palestinians.

    Stories from the sex trade

    Stories from the sex trade

    Dutch sex workers, pimps and johns share their stories.

    Inside the world of India's booming fertility industry

    Inside the world of India's booming fertility industry

    As the stigma associated with being childless persists, some elderly women in India risk it all to become mothers.