António Guterres

This name uses Portuguese naming customs. The first or maternal family name is Oliveira and the second or paternal family name is Guterres.
His Excellency
António Guterres

Guterres in London, November 2016.
Secretary-General of the United Nations
Taking office
1 January 2017
Succeeding Ban Ki-moon
10th United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees
In office
15 June 2005  31 December 2015
Kofi Annan
Ban Ki-moon
Preceded by Ruud Lubbers
Succeeded by Filippo Grandi
114th Prime Minister of Portugal
In office
28 October 1995  6 April 2002
President Mário Soares
Jorge Sampaio
Preceded by Aníbal Cavaco Silva
Succeeded by José Manuel Barroso
President of Socialist International
In office
November 1999  June 2005
Preceded by Pierre Mauroy
Succeeded by George Papandreou
Secretary-General of the Socialist Party
In office
23 February 1992  21 January 2002
President António de Almeida Santos
Preceded by Jorge Sampaio
Succeeded by Eduardo Ferro Rodrigues
Personal details
Born António Manuel de Oliveira Guterres
(1949-04-30) 30 April 1949
Lisbon, Portugal
Political party Socialist
Spouse(s) Luísa Guimarães e Melo
(m. 1972–1998; died)
Catarina Vaz Pinto
(m. 2001–present)
Children Pedro
Alma mater Instituto Superior Técnico
Religion Roman Catholicism
Website António Guterres

António Manuel de Oliveira Guterres, GCL GCC (Portuguese pronunciation: [ɐ̃ˈtɔnju ɡuˈtɛʁɨʃ]; born 30 April 1949) is a Portuguese politician and diplomat who is the Secretary-General-designate of the United Nations. Guterres was Prime Minister of Portugal from 1995 to 2002, as leader of the Socialist Party. He also served as President of the Socialist International from 1999 to 2005.[1] He was the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees from June 2005 to December 2015, and in October 2016 the United Nations General Assembly elected him by acclamation to become the next United Nations secretary-general, succeeding the retiring Ban Ki-moon.

Early life

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 Camões Lyceum (now Camões Secondary School) where he graduated in 1965, winning the National Lyceums Award (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.[2]

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 became involved in Socialist Party leadership and held the following offices:

Guterres was also a member of the team which negotiated the terms of Portugal’s entry into the European Union in the late 1970s.[5] He was a founding member of the Portuguese Refugee Council in 1991.[6]

In 1992, after the Socialists' third consecutive defeat in Parliamentary elections,[7] Guterres became Secretary-General of the Socialist Party and leader of the opposition during Aníbal Cavaco Silva's government.[8] At the time, he was the party's third leader in six years.[9] He was also selected as one of the 25 vice-presidents of the Socialist International in September 1992.[10] His election represented a break with tradition for the Socialists: not only was Guterres not associated with either the faction around then-President and former Prime Minister Mário Soares or the party's left wing lead by Guterres' predecessor Sampaio, but he was also a devout Catholic, running counter to the party's historical secularism. He sought to consult with Portugal's civil society in formulating policy, meeting a range of intellectuals, scientists and entrepreneurs from across the country and the political spectrum in the run-up to the next general election.[7]

Prime Minister of Portugal

Cavaco Silva did not seek a fourth term as Prime Minister of Portugal (in order to run for the 1996 Presidential election) and the Socialist Party won the 1995 parliamentary election. President Soares appointed Guterres to become Prime Minister and his cabinet took the oath of office on 28 October that year. Guterres ran on a platform of keeping a tight hold on budget spending and inflation in a bid to ensure that Portugal met the Euro convergence criteria by the end of the decade, as well as increasing rates of participation in the labour market, especially among women, improving tax collection and cracking down on tax evasion, increased involvement of the mutual and non-profit sectors in providing welfare services, a means-tested guaranteed minimum income (known as the Rendimento Minimo Garantido), and increased investment in education.[7] He was then one of seven Social Democratic prime ministers in the European Union, joining political allies in Spain, Denmark, Finland, Sweden, Greece and the Netherlands.[11]

First term (1995–99)

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 programs.[12] He presided over Expo 98 in Lisbon, commemorating the 500th anniversary of the voyage of Vasco da Gama.[13] His government also accelerated the programme of privatisations which had been undertaken by Cavaco Silva's government: a total of 29 companies were privatised between 1996 and 1999, with proceeds from privatisations in 1996-7 being greater than those of the previous six years, and the public sector's share of GDP being halved from 11 percent in 1994 to 5.5 percent five years later. Share ownership was also widened, with 800,000 people investing in Portugal Telecom upon its privatisation in 1996 and 750,000 applying for shares in Electricidade de Portugal.[7]

Also in 1998, two nationwide referenda were held. The first one was held in June, and asked the voters whether abortion rules should be liberalized. Although most of the Socialist Party supported liberalization, Guterres himself voted against.[12] A second referendum was held in November, this time over the regionalization of the mainland. In this referendum, both Guterres and his party supported the approval of such an administrative reform. However, in either case, both proposals were rejected by the voters.

Contrary to his party stance and following the removal of homosexuality from the list of mental illnesses by the World Health Organization in 1990, Guterres said, in 1995, that “he did not like homosexuality” and that he considered it “something that bothered him”.[14]

António Guterres in 2003

On foreign policy, Guterres campaigned for United Nations intervention in East Timor in 1999, after the former Portuguese colony was virtually destroyed by Indonesian-backed militias when it voted for independence.[6] He also finalized the 12-year long negotiations on the transfer of sovereignty over Macau, which had been a Portuguese colony, to Chinese control in 1999.[15]

Second term (1999–2002)

In the 1999 parliamentary election the Socialist Party and the Opposition conquered exactly the same number of MPs (115). Guterres was re-appointed for the office and from January to July 2000, he occupied the six-month rotating presidency of the European Council. This second term in government was not as successful however. Internal party conflicts along with a slowdown in economic growth and the Hintze Ribeiro Bridge disaster damaged his authority and popularity. Nevertheless, some long-lasting measures were taken during his second cabinet: in October 2000 the Parliament approved the decriminalization of drug use (effective from 1 July 2001)[16] and in March 2001, same-sex civil unions were legalized.[15][17]

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 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 would later become President of the European Commission.

Diplomatic career

Guterres worked as President of the Socialist International until 2005, when he was elected UN High Commissioner for Refugees.[18] In 2005, following Guterres’ proposal, George Papandreou was elected Vice President of the Socialist International; in 2006, Papandreou succeeded him as President of the Socialist International.

In May 2005 Guterres was elected High Commissioner for Refugees for a five-year term by the UN General Assembly, replacing Ruud Lubbers.[19]

High Commissioner for Refugees

As High Commissioner, Guterres 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 in the UNHCR's Geneva head office and expanding UNHCR's emergency response capacity during the worst displacement crisis since the Second World War.[20][21]

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.[22] During his final years 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.[23] He was an outspoken advocate for a more coordinated and humane approach by European countries to the Mediterranean refugee crisis.[24] In June 2013, he launched a US$5 billion aid effort, its biggest ever, to help up to 10.25 million Syrians that year.[25]

In what was widely considered as a very effective PR move, Guterres appointed American actress Angelina Jolie as his Special Envoy to represent UNHCR and himself at the diplomatic level in 2012.[26] Together they visited the Kilis Oncupinar Accommodation Facility in Turkey (2012);[27] the Zaatari refugee camp in Jordan (2013);[28] and the Maritime Squadron of the Armed Forces of Malta (2015). They also appeared jointly before the United Nations Security Council (2015).[29]

In early 2015, the General Assemby voted to extend Guterres’ mandate by 6½ months to 31 December, on recommendation of United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. In light of the European migrant crisis, the UNHCR's 98-member executive committee (EXCOM) later requested that Ban recommend extending Guterres' term by a further year; however, Ban disregarded the request.[30] Guterres 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.[31]

United Nations Secretary-General

Guterres will become United Nations Secretary-General on 1 January 2017, following his formal election by the UN General Assembly on 13 October 2016.[32]

On 29 February 2016, Guterres submitted his nomination as Portugal's candidate for the 2016 UN Secretary-General selection.[33]

On 5 October, the 15-member United Nations Security Council announced that they had agreed to nominate Guterres, after an informal secret ballot in which he gained 13 encourage votes and two no opinion votes.[34][35] The UNSC officially nominated Guterres by adopting a formal resolution on 6 October and on 13 October he was formally elected by the United Nations General Assembly on the seventy-first session. Guterres is expected to take office on 1 January 2017.[36]

The UN's role in the Haiti cholera outbreak has been widely discussed and criticized[37] after the Ban Ki-moon administration denied the issue for several months. According to the Boston-based Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti as well as numerous conclusive scientific studies, the UN is the proximate cause for bringing cholera to Haiti. Peacekeepers sent to Haiti from Nepal in 2010 were carrying asymptomatic cholera and failed to treat their waste properly before dumping it into one of Haiti's main water streams.[38] During his UNSG informal dialogue, Jamaica, on behalf of the Caribbean Community, asked if the UN should assume liability for any deaths within local populations that result from the introduction of infectious disease by its peacekeepers. Jamaica also asked if Guterres believes compensation should be provided.[39] Guterres responded by calling the situation a "particularly complex question." He says that it is difficult to preserve diplomatic immunity while also ensuring there is no impunity, but that he would "pay a lot of attention in trying to find the right equilibrium between these two aspects that are absolutely crucial."[39] In a UN General Assembly meeting in late October 2016, the representative from Haiti called the UN's current and future response to the cholera epidemic will be a "litmus test of the system's commitment to the promotion of human rights." [40]

In 2016 Anders Kompass exposed the sexual assault of children by peacekeepers in the Central African Republic and, as a consequence, was dismissed by Ban Ki-moon's administration before being rehabilitated in court.[41] During the United Nations Secretary General Candidate informal dialogues, Guterres indicated it was completely unacceptable that there be UN forces committing human rights violations such as rape and sexual violence. "All of us together—states and UN—must do our utmost to ensure that any kind of action of this type is severely punished," remarked Guterres.[39] The United States raised the question of international tribunals to try peacekeepers for their crimes. Guterres responded by saying an independent jurisdiction would be excellent but that "the only way to get there is through a new compact with all key parties true contributors, financial contributors, and to make sure that there is an adjustment in the relation between countries the UN and the support those that are contributing with troops receive in order to be able to do it much better."[39] He also indicated that there is a gap between theoretical zero tolerance and the ineffective zero tolerance that actually exists on the ground that needs to be overcome.

Other activities

Personal life

In 1972, Guterres married child psychiatrist[12] Luísa Amélia Guimarães e Melo (1946–1998), 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 1998.[8][47]

In 2001, he married his second wife Catarina Marques de Almeida Vaz Pinto (b. 1960),[48] a former Portuguese State Secretary for Culture and more recently Culture Secretary for the City Council of Lisbon.[49][50]

In addition to his native Portuguese, Guterres speaks French, English and Spanish.[51]

Guterres is a practising Catholic.[47] During his university years, he joined the Group of Light, a club for young Catholics, where he met Father Vítor Melícias, a prominent Franciscan priest and church administrator who remains a close friend and confidant.[12]



National honors

Honorary degrees

Other awards


  1. Alexander, Harriet (5 October 2016). "Who is Antonio Guterres, the next Secretary-General of the United Nations?". The Telegraph. Retrieved 6 October 2016.
  2. SAPO. "António Guterres: católico, socialista e político por acréscimo - Atualidade - SAPO 24". Retrieved 15 October 2016.
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  7. 1 2 3 4 Costa Lobo, Marina; Magalhães, Pedro C. (2001). "The Portuguese Socialists and the Third Way" (PDF). European Consortium for Political Research. Retrieved 7 November 2016.
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  10. "PRESIDIUM ELECTED BY THE XIX CONGRESS". Retrieved 15 October 2016.
  11. Rory Watson (October 4, 1995), Socialists prepare to govern European Voice.
  12. 1 2 3 4 Peter Wise (October 6, 2016), 5 things to know: Portuguese who said no to EU but yes to UN Financial Times
  13. "Antonio Guterres, a Portuguese on the move". 14 October 1999. Retrieved 15 October 2016 via The Economist.
  14. Nuno Miguel Ropio (23 May 2010). "A longa marcha dos direitos homossexuais". Retrieved 27 October 2016 via Jornal de Notícias.
  15. 1 2 Somini Sengupta (October 13, 2016), António Guterres, Known for Nerve and Deal Making, Will Need Both at U.N. New York Times
  16. Lei n.º 30/2000, de 29 de Novembro. 29 November 2000. Retrieved 19 October 2016.
  17. Lei n.º 7/2001, de 11 de Maio. 7 May 2001. Retrieved 18 October 2016.
  18. "SI Presidium thanks António Guterres and sets in motion procedure to elect new President". Retrieved 15 October 2016.
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  20. Refugees, United Nations High Commissioner for. "António Guterres (Portugal): 2005-2015". Retrieved 15 October 2016.
  21. Who is Antonio Guterres? Meet the UN's next secretary-general BBC News, 6 October 2016.
  22. "Millions Leave Home in Iraqi Refugee Crisis". NPR. 17 February 2007.
  23. Alrababa'h, Ala'; Jarrar, Ghazi (18 August 2013). "Syrian Refugees: Time To Do The Right Thing". Sharnoff's Global Views. Retrieved 2 September 2013.
  24. "Europe's response to Mediterranean Crisis is lagging far behind". Time Magazine. 23 April 2015.
  25. Tom Miles (June 7, 2013), U.N. launches biggest aid effort for half of Syria's population Reuters.
  26. Angelina Jolie appointed as Special Envoy of High Commissioner Guterres UNHCR, press release of 17 April 2012.
  27. Mohammed Tawfeeq (September 17, 2012), U.N. envoy Angelina Jolie visits Syria refugees in Iraq CNN
  28. Mariano Castillo (June 21, 2013), Angelina Jolie turns spotlight on Syria CNN
  29. Margaret Besheer (April 24, 2015), Jolie Appeals for Syrian Refugee Action Voice of America
  30. Louis Charbonneau and Tom Miles (October 8, 2015), U.N.'s Ban rejects calls to keep refugee chief amid crisis Reuters.
  31. Refugees, United Nations High Commissioner for. "Previous High Commissioners". Retrieved 15 October 2016.
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  33. António Guterres Candidacy for the position of Secretary-General of the United Nations. Accessed 15 September 2016
  34. "Portugal's Antonio Guterres set to be UN secretary general". BBC. 5 October 2016. Retrieved 5 October 2016.
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  38. "Advocacy Cholera Accountability". IJDH. Retrieved 5 October 2016.
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  41. Laville, Sandra (18 January 2016). "UN whistleblower who exposed sexual abuse by peacekeepers is exonerated". Retrieved 5 October 2016 via The Guardian.
  42. Vision Award Jury Champalimaud Foundation.
  43. António Guterres Club of Madrid.
  44. Board of Trustees Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation.
  45. Tavares, Paulo (10 February 2016). "Guterres, Leonor Beleza, Lobo Xavier e Marques Mendes no Conselho de Estado". TSF. Retrieved 3 December 2016.
  46. "Guterres deixa Conselho de Estado, Marcelo designa António Damásio". Expresso. 24 November 2016. Retrieved 3 December 2016.
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  48. Nations, Evelyn Leopold Veteran journalist reporting from the United (5 October 2016). "World's Top Diplomat -- It's Guterres Of Portugal! - Huffington Post". Retrieved 15 October 2016.
  49. "Catarina Vaz Pinto - UNESCO - World Forum On Culture and Cultural Industries - Florence 2 - 4 October 2014". Retrieved 15 October 2016.
  50. teixeira, patricia. "Catarina Vaz Pinto". Retrieved 15 October 2016.
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  52. Manila (6 October 2016). "António Guterres". Ethnicelebs. Retrieved 14 October 2016.
  53. 1 2 "Cidadãos Nacionais Agraciados com Ordens Portuguesas". Página Oficial das Ordens Honoríficas Portuguesas. Retrieved 13 July 2016.
  54. Boletín Oficial del Estado
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  57. Boletin Oficial del Estado
  58. Ceremony for conferral of an honorary doctorate, and lecture Mr. Antonio Guterres, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Meiji University, press release of November 13, 2014.
  59. Carleton to Award Honorary Doctorate to Diplomat and Global Leader Antonio Guterres Carleton University, press release of January 27, 2016.
  60. Miguel Marujo (May 3, 2016), Guterres será doutor 'honoris causa' por Coimbra Diário de Notícias.

External links

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