The former socialist Prime Minister of Portugal, António Gutierres, was elected unanimously by the United Nations Security Council to replace Ban Ki-moon as secretary-general. The 15 ambassadors of the UN Security Council have justified their choice based on the candidate’s strong commitment to migration and refugees.
In January António Guterres will become leader of the organization after being the front runner since the beginning of the campaign. On that occasion, the UN did not follow the common process of rotating the presidency by region nor succumbed to the pressure of electing a woman. The reasons might be his international experience and extensive work on refugee crisis.
The U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power declared, “We’re looking for somebody with great leadership skills, great management skills, someone who has a commitment to fairness and accountability and who stays true to the founding principles of the United Nations”.
The UN has now an overqualified future secretary-general. Yet, there is still a need to define which programmes the organisation will accomplish.
Guterres will take office within a context of persistent international pressure due to the conflict in Syria, the silent but dramatic conflict in South Sudan, jihadist terrorism and the refugee crisis in the UE. Those issues are leading to the rise of a neo populist and xenophobic trend within many Member States.
It is expected that the former prime minister, thanks to his experiences as UN High Commissioner for Refugees for more than ten years, will have a deep knowledge on those issues which should help him lead the UN.