GNN Personality Of The Week – Profile Of Pending UN Secretary General, Antonio Manuel de Oliverira Guterres

António Manuel de Oliveira Guterres,the next United Nations Secretary General
António Manuel de Oliveira Guterres,the next United Nations Secretary General

This  week we profile United Nations pending Secretary General, António Manuel de Oliveira Guterres, born 30 April 1949) is a Portuguese politician and diplomat who is the designate Secretary-General of the United Nations, he was Prime Minister of Portugal from 1995 to 2002, and also served for a time as President of the Socialist International.

António Guterres was born and raised in Portugal’s capital, Lisbon, son of Virgílio Dias Guterres (1913–2009) and his wife Ilda Cândida de Oliveira (born 1923).

He was educated at the prestigious Liceu de Camões (now Secondary School) where he graduated in 1965, winning the “Prémio Nacional dos Liceus” as the best student in the country.

He then studied physics and electrical engineering at Instituto Superior Técnico in Lisbon. He graduated in 1971 and started an academic career as assistant professor teaching Systems Theory and Telecommunications Signals, before leaving academic life to start a political career.

His political career started in 1974, when he joined the Socialist Party. Shortly thereafter, he quit academic life and became a full-time politician. In the period following the Carnation Revolution of 25 April 1974, which put an end to Caetano’s dictatorship, Guterres was closely involved in the organization of the Socialist Party, especially the Lisbon section.

Guterres became one of the party leaders and held the following offices:

Head of Office of the Secretary of State of Industry (1974 and 1975)     Deputy for Castelo Branco in the Portuguese National Parliament (1976–1995), during which he was responsible for several parliamentary commissions Leader of the parliamentary bench of the Socialist Party, succeeding Jorge Sampaio (1988)

In 1992, he became Secretary-General of the Socialist Party and leader of the opposition against Aníbal Cavaco Silva’s government. He was also nominated as vice-president of the Socialist International in September 1992.

Following the term of Cavaco Silva’s cabinet in 1995, the Socialist Party won the general election and Guterres became Prime Minister of Portugal. With a style markedly different from that of his predecessor, based on dialogue and discussion with all sections of society, Guterres was a popular prime minister in the first years of his government.

Portugal was enjoying a solid economic expansion which allowed the Socialists to reduce budget deficits while increasing welfare spending and creating new conditional cash transfer programes. Also important was the successful staging of Expo 98, in Lisbon, which increased Portugal’s visibility in the world.

Guterres was re-elected in 1999, and from January to July 2000, he occupied the Presidency of the European Council. This second term in government was not as successful however. Internal party conflicts along with a slowdown of the economic growth and the Hintze Ribeiro Bridge disaster damaged his authority and popularity.

In December 2001, following a disastrous result for the Socialist Party in the local elections, Guterres resigned, stating that “I am resigning to prevent the country from falling into a political swamp”. President Jorge Sampaio dissolved the Parliament and called for elections. Eduardo Ferro Rodrigues, until then Minister for Social Security, assumed the Socialist Party leadership, but the general election was lost to the Social Democratic Party of José Manuel Durão Barroso, who later became President of the European Commission. Guterres retired from Portuguese politics and worked as President of the Socialist International until 2005.

Guterres is a member of the Club of Madrid, an independent non-profit organization composed of democratic former Presidents and Prime Ministers from 57 different countries, and which works to strengthen democratic institutions and leadership.

In May 2005 Guterres was elected High Commissioner for Refugees by the UN General Assembly. As High Commissioner, he headed one of the world’s largest humanitarian organizations, which at the end of his term had more than 10,000 staff working in 126 countries providing protection and assistance to over 60 million refugees, returnees, internally displaced people and stateless persons. His time in office was marked by a fundamental organizational reform, cutting staff and administrative costs and expanding UNHCR’s emergency response capacity during the worst displacement crisis since the Second World War.

In a February 2007 NPR interview devoted mainly to the plight of Iraqi refugees, he said that this was one of the greatest refugee crisis in the Middle East since 1948. Among poorly publicized refugee crises, he cited those in the Central African Republic and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.During his second mandate as High Commissioner, he worked chiefly to secure international aid for the refugees of the Syrian civil war, calling the refugee crisis an “existential” one for host countries (such as Lebanon and Jordan), and describing additional aid as a “matter of survival” for the refugees. He left office on 31 December 2015, having served the second-longest term as High Commissioner in the organization’s history, after Prince Sadruddin Aga Khan.

On 29 February 2016, Guterres submitted his nomination as Portugal’s candidate for the 2016 UN Secretary-General selection.

The UN’s role in the Haiti cholera outbreak has been widely discussed and criticized citation needed after Ban Ki-moon administration denied the issue for several months. According to the Boston-based Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti, the UN is the proximate cause for bringing cholera to Haiti.

Peacekeepers sent to Haiti from Nepal were carrying asymptomatic cholera and they did not treat their waste

He was the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees from June 2005 to December 2015.

Personal life

In 1972, Guterres married Luísa Amélia Guimarães e Melo (b. Porto, 1 September 1946), with whom he had two children, Pedro Guimarães e Melo Guterres (b. 1977) and Mariana Guimarães e Melo de Oliveira Guterres (b. 1985). His wife died of cancer at the Royal Free Hospital in London on 28 January 1998.

In 2001, he married his second wife Catarina Marques de Almeida Vaz Pinto, born on 15 June 1960. He has a stepson, natural son of his second wife by José Carlos da Costa Ramos, named Francisco Vaz Pinto da Costa Ramos, born on 20 May 1998.

In addition to his native Portuguese, Guterres speaks English, Spanish, and French.

Distinctions

PRT Order of Liberty – Grand Cross BAR.png Grand Cross of the Order of Liberty (Portugal, 2 February 2016).

Order of Isabella the Catholic – Sash of Collar.svg Collar of the Order of Isabella the Catholic (Spain, 14 June 2002)

PRT Order of Christ – Grand Cross BAR.png Grand Cross of the Order of Christ (Portugal, 9 June 2002).

Ordre national du Merite GC ribbon.svg Grand Cross of the National Order of Merit (France, 4 February 2002).

Order of the Southern Cross Grand Collar Ribbon.png Grand Cross of the Order of the Southern Cross (Brazil, 2002).

JPN Kyokujitsu-sho 1Class BAR.svg Grand Cordon of the Order of the Rising Sun (Japan, 2002).

 Order of the Republic (Tunisia) – ribbon bar.gif Grand Cordon of the Order of the Republic (Tunisia, 2002).

Ukraine-republic007.png Order of Prince Yaroslav the Wise, First Class (Ukraine, 2002).

ITA OMRI 2001 GC BAR.svg Grand Cross of the Order of Merit of the Italian Republic (Italy, 3 December 2001).

CHL Order of Merit of Chile – Grand Cross BAR.png Grand Cross of the Order of Merit (Chile, 30 September 2001).

Amílcar Cabral Order – 1st Class (Cabo Verde).png First Degree of the Order of Amílcar Cabral (Cape Verde, 27 April 2001)

Grand Crest Ordre de Leopold.png Grand Cordon of the Order of Leopold (Belgium, 9 October 2000)

ESP Charles III Order GC.svg Grand Cross of the Order of Charles III (Spain, 8 September 2000).

GRE Order of Honour Grand Cross BAR.png Grand Cross of the Order of Honour (Greece, 17 March 2000).

MEX Order of the Aztec Eagle 2Class BAR.png Sash of Special Category of the Order of the Aztec Eagle (Mexico, 2 July 1999).

 Order of the Oriental Republic of Uruguay (1992) – ribbon bar.png Grand Officer ot the Order of the Oriental Republic of Uruguay (Uruguay, 10 December 1998).

POL Order Zaslugi RP kl1 BAR.png Grand Cross of the Order of Merit of the Republic of Poland (Poland, 22 September 1997).

BRA Order of the Southern Cross – Grand Cross BAR.png Grand Cross of the Order of the Southern Cross (Brazil, 23 July 1996).

Early this month October 2016 the United Nations Security Council announced he would be the next United Nations Secretary General, succeeding the retiring Ban Ki-moon.

Text Credit: WIKIPEDIA

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About Cholo Brooks 5089 Articles
Joel Cholo Brooks is a Liberian journalist who previously worked for several international news outlets including the BBC African Service. He is the CEO of the Global News Network which publishes two local weeklies, The Star and The GNN-Liberia Newspapers. He is a member of the Press Union Of Liberia (PUL) since 1986, and several other international organizations of journalists.