“Mr. Guterres has the character, vision, and skills needed to lead the United Nations at this critical moment and to reform its organizations and operations to better meet these unprecedented challenges.”

– President Barack Obama 


On October 13, 2016, the United Nations General Assembly voted to confirm António Guterres as the ninth UN Secretary-General. The Secretary-General will serve a five year period between January 1, 2017 and December 31, 2021.

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon meets with Mr. Antonio Guterres, Secretary-General-designate.

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon meets with Mr. Antonio Guterres, Secretary-General-designate.

Mr. Guterres became Secretary-General during an era of complex global challenges when strong UN leadership is vital to peace and progress. Interconnected issues – including swelling refugee populations, violent extremism, and persistent inequality – defy borders and demand effective collaboration. Historic 2015 agreements on climate change and sustainable development are poised to transform our world.

Mr. Guterres, a visionary leader who knows how to get things done, will help the UN realize these promises. With his demonstrated track record of bold leadership, deep commitment to international cooperation, and tireless advocacy for the rights and dignity of the most vulnerable, Mr. Guterres is capable of bringing new ambition to the UN during this critical time.

What is his background?

A former Prime Minister of Portugal, Mr. Guterres went on to serve as UN High Commissioner for Refugees from 2005 to 2015. During his tenure at UNHCR, which coincided with the largest refugee surge since World War II, he won praise from Member States and NGOs for his work to ameliorate the crisis.

Mr. Guterres also cultivated close ties with the U.S. under both the Bush and Obama Administrations and led efforts to reform the organization’s operations, shrinking the size of headquarters, putting more staff and resources into the field, steering the agency towards greater transparency and accountability, enhancing partnerships with NGOs, and strengthening gender and diversity policies.

What does this mean for the U.S.-UN partnership?

It’s important news! U.S. diplomats and lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have worked closely with him and view him as a strong and effective leader. He’ll be the first former Prime Minister to serve as a Secretary-General.

Our President, Peter Yeo shared with USA Today, that as the former leader of UNHCR—the UN’s refugee agency—Guterres was willing to use his position to speak out forcefully, not only for refugees but also to call out world leaders to solve the refugee crisis.

He’s not a quiet voice. He’s a forceful outspoken leader on the global stage and that’s something the UN needs.

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