Former Portuguese Prime Minister Antonio Guterres will be the next UN Secretary General. According to Russian Ambassador to the UN, Vitali Churkin, president of the Security Council for the month of October, Guterres was found to be the favorite candidate and there are no vetoes against him. Previously, Guterres worked as head of the UN for Refugees, UNHCR.
In pole position for a long time
Guterres, 67, has always been largely in the lead in terms of consensus in all the preliminary voting in the Security Council, held behind closed doors and through secret ballot. Moscow, however, was pressing for an Eastern European candidate and it was unclear if it was going to veto his candidacy. Churkin’s announcement made it clear that they reached an agreement and that the Portuguese former minister will be the next UN Secretary General. “Today, after our sixth preliminary vote, we have a well-defined favorite, and his name is Antonio Guterres. We decided to vote tomorrow morning at 10 and we hope that the decision will be taken by acclamation,” said Russian ambassador.
The vote of the UN Security Council will have to be subsequently confirmed by the General Assembly. “An agreement has been reached. The Security Council members will elect me secretary general. I am happy and honored,” Guterres tweeted. Then, in another tweet: “Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!” Socialist Prime Minister of Portugal between 1995 and 2000, Guterres was the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees between June 15, 2005 and December 31, 2015.
A difficult agreement
The agreement on Guterres’ name comes after numerous media had linked the difficulties in reaching an agreement on Ban Ki-moon’s successor to the tensions between US and Russia. Irina Bokova, UNESCO Director, seemed to be a possible candidate for some time, as from Eastern Europe, but in a vote in the Council had little support. That is why Bulgaria withdrew her candidacy on 28 September, proposing the EU Commissioner Kristallina Georgieva. But eventually Guterrez prevailed.