Climate, conflict are priorities as Guterres steps up to head UN

By AT editor - 6 October 2016 at 6:38 pm
Climate, conflict are priorities as Guterres steps up to head UN

The United Nations Security Council has approved the selection of António Guterres of Portugal as the next UN Secretary General. A formal vote will take place Friday in Geneva.

The nomination was confirmed at UN headquarters on Thursday, and praised by Russian, Indian and European leaders. Guterres is expected to speak from Lisbon late today, Reuters reports.

Guterres, the former prime minister of Portugal, served as the head of the UN High Commission on Refugees for a decade, leaving the office just last year.

He has worked extensively with UNHCR and NGOs in Africa, and is keenly aware of the drivers forcing African migration patterns in some of the world’s oft-overlooked corners, including South Sudan and Central African Republic.

His experience and leadership on migration and refugee movement are expected to serve Guterres well, as the new Secretary General faces the unprecedented challenges of global conflict and climate that are driving migration patterns not seen since World War II.

His December speech at the High Commissioner’s Dialogue on Protection Challenges – delivered right after COP21 in Paris – was among his last before Guterres stepped away from his UNHRC role. His remarks reflected both his practical, accessible style and his integrative approach to global challenges.

Guterres called for the international community to get beyond crisis management and the immediacy of emergency response, and understand “what got us here in the first place.”

Those answers are rooted in a confluence of factors that Guterres has made a priority across his diplomatic career, and are expected to remain priorities as he begins his tenure as Secretary General.

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