Portugal’s Antonio Guterres Sworn in as Next UN Secretary General

Antonio Guterres will replace Ban Ki-moon of South Korea as the General Secretary of UN, on 1 January.

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Former Portuguese Prime Minister Antonio Guterres was sworn in as the ninth United Nations Secretary-General, on Monday.

67-year-old Guterres will replace Ban Ki-moon, 72, of South Korea on 1 January. Ban will be stepping down at the end of 2016 after completing two five-year terms. Guterres was Portugal's Prime Minister from 1995 to 2002 and UN High Commissioner for Refugees from 2005 to 2015.

“From the acute crises in Syria, Yemen, South Sudan and elsewhere, to long-running disputes including the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, we need mediation, arbitration as well as creative diplomacy. As part of my good offices I am ready to engage personally in conflict resolution where it brings added value”, Guterres told the 193-member strong General Assembly.

Guterres beat 12 other candidates, seven of whom were women, amid a push for the first woman to be elected. He said on Monday he aimed to have gender parity among senior UN leadership within his five year term.

Diplomats said Guterres is expected to shortly name Nigeria's environment minister Amina Mohammed as his deputy secretary-general. He is also planning to appoint a woman as his chief of staff before the end of the year.

Before her appointment as environment minister a year ago, Mohammed was UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's special adviser on post-2015 development planning, a role that culminated last year with the adoption of sustainable development goals for the next 15 years, by the General Assembly.


Guterres is the first former head of a government to be elected to run the world body and that experience will be reflected in how he operates, diplomats said. The under-secretary-generals are expected to be a part of a collective leadership of the UN, a diplomat said on condition of anonymity.

Having what he calls a cabinet, like when he was prime minister, his senior officials would come together every week and collectively they would have responsibility for the totality of the organization.

Diplomats were now watching to see who Guterres appoints to senior UN positions amid speculation by diplomats and UN officials that China would like one of its nationals to head peacekeeping and that Russia is keen to have a senior role.

(With inputs from Reuters)

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