António Manuel de Oliveira Guterres GCC GCL (/ɡʊˈtɛrəs/; Portuguese: [ɐ̃ˈtɔnju ɡuˈtɛʁɨʃ]; born 30 April 1949) is a Portuguese politician and diplomat who is serving as the ninth Secretary-General of the United Nations. Previously, he was the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees between 2005 and 2015.[1]

Guterres was the Prime Minister of Portugal from 1995 to 2002 and was the Secretary-General of the Socialist Party from 1992 to 2002. He served as President of the Socialist International from 1999 to 2005.

Early life

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

He was educated at the 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 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

Guterres' political career began in 1974, when he became a member of 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 that put an end to Caetano's dictatorship, Guterres became involved in Socialist Party leadership and held the following offices:

Guterres was a member of the team that 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, and 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 won exactly the same number of MPs (115). Guterres was re-appointed for the office and from January to July 2000, and 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 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.

President of Socialist International

Guterres was elected President of Socialist International in November 1999,[18] thus overlapping with his second term as Prime Minister of Portugal until his resignation from the latter post in December 2001. He remained President until June 2005.[18]

Diplomatic career

Guterres was elected UN High Commissioner for Refugees in 2005.[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, one 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.[citation needed] 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]

António Guterres, 2012

In a February 2007 NPR interview devoted mainly to the plight of Iraqi refugees, Guterres said that this was one of the greatest refugee crises 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 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 Assembly 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

António Guterres, 2016

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

Guterres with Brazilian President Michel Temer in Brasilia, Brazil, 31 October 2016

On 29 February 2016, Guterres submitted his nomination as Portugal's candidate for the 2016 UN Secretary-General selection.[33] This was the first time candidates for Secretary-General had to present their platform in public hearings in the UN general assembly, a process during which Guterres emerged as a much stronger candidate than had been initially expected, given that he fit the bill on neither the gender nor the geographic scores.[34]

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.[35][36] The UNSC officially nominated Guterres by adopting a formal resolution on 6 October. A week later, he was formally elected by the United Nations General Assembly in its seventy-first session. Guterres took office on 1 January 2017.[37]

Guterres and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry shake hands, 4 November 2016

The UN's role in the Haiti cholera outbreak has been widely discussed and criticized[38] 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.[39] 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.[40] 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."[40] 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 "a litmus test of the system's commitment to the promotion of human rights."[41] Though many had hoped Guterres' term would mark a break with the inaction that characterized Ban Ki-moon's response to the epidemic, Guterres has done little to signal a commitment to cholera victims in Haiti. As of April 2017, five months into Guterres' term as Secretary-General, only $10 million had been contributed to the $400 million fund to fight cholera and provide material assistance to victims the UN announced in 2016. [42]

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson with Antonio Guterres, 28 April 2017

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.[43] 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.[40] 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."[40] He also indicated that there is a gap between theoretical zero tolerance and the ineffective zero tolerance that actually exists on the ground and needs to be overcome.[citation needed]

On 1 January 2017, on his first day at the helm of the United Nations as Secretary-General, António Guterres pledged to make 2017 a year for peace. "Let us resolve to put peace first," said Mr Guterres, in an appeal for peace.[44]

On 20 June 2017, however, "Secretary-General Antonio Guterres warned the Trump administration ... that if the United States disengages from many issues confronting the international community it will be replaced..."[45]

In March 2018 António Guterres, UN Secretary General said the population of Ghouta is living in "hell on earth".

In one district, 93% of buildings had been damaged or destroyed by December, according to UN satellite imagery analysis. A recent wave of bombings has caused further destruction. [46]

Other activities

Personal life

In 1972, Guterres married child psychiatrist[12] Luísa Amélia Guimarães e Melo, 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 in 1998 aged 51.[53][8][54]

In 2001, he married his second wife Catarina Marques de Almeida Vaz Pinto (b. 1960),[55] a former Portuguese State Secretary for Culture and more recently Culture Secretary for the City Council of Lisbon.[56][57]

In addition to his native Portuguese, Guterres speaks English, French, and Spanish.[58]

CNN's Tim Hume claimed that Guterres is "a practising Catholic".[54] 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. ^ "New UN chief Guterres pledges to make 2017 'a year for peace'". UN News Centre. United Nations. 1 January 2017. Retrieved 2 January 2017. 
  2. ^ SAPO. "António Guterres: católico, socialista e político por acréscimo - Atualidade - SAPO 24". sapo.pt. Archived from the original on 11 October 2016. Retrieved 15 October 2016. 
  3. ^ "Antonio Guterres, former Portugal Prime Minister, next United Nations secretary general". cbsnews.com. Retrieved 15 October 2016. 
  4. ^ "Biografia". parlamento.pt. Retrieved 15 October 2016. 
  5. ^ Master of dialogue European Voice, 5 January 2000.
  6. ^ a b Warren Hoge (25 May 2005), Former Portuguese Premier Chosen to Lead U.N. Refugee Agency New York Times.
  7. ^ a b c d Costa Lobo, Marina; Magalhães, Pedro C. (2001). "The Portuguese Socialists and the Third Way" (PDF). European Consortium for Political Research. Retrieved 7 November 2016. 
  8. ^ a b "Who is Antonio Guterres? Meet the UN's next secretary-general". BBC. 6 October 2016. Retrieved 15 October 2016. 
  9. ^ Alan Riding (8 June 1992), Who's No.1 in Lisbon? Portuguese Leaders Clash New York Times.
  10. ^ "PRESIDIUM ELECTED BY THE XIX CONGRESS". socialistinternational.org. Retrieved 15 October 2016. 
  11. ^ Rory Watson (4 October 1995), Socialists prepare to govern European Voice.
  12. ^ a b c d Peter Wise (6 October 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. ^ a b Somini Sengupta (13 October 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. ^ a b c "SI Presidium thanks António Guterres and sets in motion procedure to elect new President". socialistinternational.org. Retrieved 15 October 2016. 
  19. ^ Warren Hoge (25 May 2005), Former Portuguese Premier Chosen to Lead U.N. Refugee Agency New York Times.
  20. ^ Refugees, United Nations High Commissioner for. "António Guterres (Portugal): 2005-2015". unhcr.org. 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 (7 June 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 (17 September 2012), U.N. envoy Angelina Jolie visits Syria refugees in Iraq CNN
  28. ^ Mariano Castillo (21 June 2013), Angelina Jolie turns spotlight on Syria CNN
  29. ^ Margaret Besheer (24 April 2015), Jolie Appeals for Syrian Refugee Action Voice of America
  30. ^ Louis Charbonneau and Tom Miles (8 October 2015), U.N.'s Ban rejects calls to keep refugee chief amid crisis Reuters.
  31. ^ Refugees, United Nations High Commissioner for. "Previous High Commissioners". unhcr.org. Retrieved 15 October 2016. 
  32. ^ "UN News - António Guterres appointed next UN Secretary-General by acclamation". United Nations Centre. United Nations News Service. 13 October 2016. Retrieved 15 October 2016. 
  33. ^ António Guterres Candidacy for the position of Secretary-General of the United Nations. antonioguterres.gov.pt. Accessed 15 September 2016
  34. ^ "António Guterres to be next UN secretary general". The Guardian. 5 October 2016. Retrieved 5 October 2016. 
  35. ^ "Portugal's Antonio Guterres set to be UN secretary general". BBC. 5 October 2016. Retrieved 5 October 2016. 
  36. ^ "António Guterres to be next UN secretary general". The Guardian. 5 October 2016. Retrieved 5 October 2016. 
  37. ^ "Security Council nominates Portugal's Guterres as U.N. chief". Reuters. 6 October 2016. Retrieved 6 October 2016. 
  38. ^ "Advocacy Cholera Accountability". 
  39. ^ "Advocacy Cholera Accountability". IJDH. Retrieved 5 October 2016. 
  40. ^ a b c d "António Guterres (Portugal) - Informal dialogue for the position of the next UN Secretary-General". United Nations. Retrieved 5 October 2016. 
  41. ^ UN Live United Nations Web TV - Meetings & Events - Third Committee, 29th meeting - 71th General Assembly
  42. ^ "Will State Inaction at UN Imperil Haiti Cholera Response?". IPI Global Observatory. Retrieved 8 June 2017. 
  43. ^ Laville, Sandra (18 January 2016). "UN whistleblower who exposed sexual abuse by peacekeepers is exonerated". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 5 October 2016. 
  44. ^ Dinesh, Singh. "Guterres Puts Peace First". www.abclive.in. ABC Live. Retrieved 2 January 2017. 
  45. ^ Ledrer, Edith. "UN chief: US will be replaced if it disengages from world". Yahoo! News. Retrieved 20 June 2017. 
  46. ^ Template:Cite=news
  47. ^ Honorary Advisory Council Dag Hammarskjöld Fund for Journalists.
  48. ^ Vision Award Jury Champalimaud Foundation.
  49. ^ António Guterres Club of Madrid.
  50. ^ Board of Trustees Archived 18 October 2016 at the Wayback Machine. Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation.
  51. ^ Tavares, Paulo (10 February 2016). "Guterres, Leonor Beleza, Lobo Xavier e Marques Mendes no Conselho de Estado". TSF. Retrieved 3 December 2016. 
  52. ^ "Guterres deixa Conselho de Estado, Marcelo designa António Damásio". Expresso. 24 November 2016. Retrieved 3 December 2016. 
  53. ^ Portuguese honor Guterres - News - southcoasttoday.com - New Bedford, MA
  54. ^ a b Hume, Tim. "Portugal's Antonio Guterres poised to become next UN secretary-general". cnn.com. 
  55. ^ Nations, Evelyn Leopold Veteran journalist reporting from the United (5 October 2016). "World's Top Diplomat -- It's Guterres Of Portugal! - Huffington Post". huffingtonpost.com. Retrieved 15 October 2016. 
  56. ^ "Catarina Vaz Pinto - UNESCO - World Forum On Culture and Cultural Industries - Florence 2 - 4 October 2014". focus2014.org. Retrieved 15 October 2016. 
  57. ^ teixeira, patricia. "Catarina Vaz Pinto". artemrede.pt. Retrieved 15 October 2016. 
  58. ^ "Portugal's Guterres poised to be next UN secretary-general". sbs.com.au. Retrieved 15 October 2016. 
  59. ^ a b "Cidadãos Nacionais Agraciados com Ordens Portuguesas". Página Oficial das Ordens Honoríficas Portuguesas. Retrieved 13 July 2016. 
  60. ^ Boletín Oficial del Estado
  61. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l "Cidadãos Nacionais Agraciados com Ordens Estrangeiras". Página Oficial das Ordens Honoríficas Portuguesas. Retrieved 13 July 2016. 
  62. ^ web, Segretariato generale della Presidenza della Repubblica-Servizio sistemi informatici- reparto. "Le onorificenze della Repubblica Italiana". Archived from the original on 18 August 2016. Retrieved 5 October 2016. 
  63. ^ Boletin Oficial del Estado
  64. ^ [1], Mundo Portuguese, press release of 4 May 2010.
  65. ^ Ceremony for conferral of an honorary doctorate, and lecture Mr. Antonio Guterres, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Meiji University, press release of 13 November 2014.
  66. ^ Carleton to Award Honorary Doctorate to Diplomat and Global Leader Antonio Guterres Carleton University, press release of 27 January 2016.
  67. ^ Miguel Marujo (3 May 2016), Guterres será doutor 'honoris causa' por Coimbra Diário de Notícias.
  68. ^ [2].
  69. ^ Jeff Stensland (24 April 2017), U.N. secretary-general to address UofSC graduates University of South Carolina, press release of 24 April 2017.
  70. ^ "Forbes List of The World's Most Powerful People in 2009". Forbes, USA. 30 December 2009. Retrieved 14 December 2016. 

External links

Positions in intergovernmental organisations
Preceded by
Ban Ki-moon (South Korea)
United Nations Secretary-General of the United Nations