Guterres poised to be next U.N. secretary-general

Oren Dorell , USA TODAY The United Nations Security Council was expected Thursday to ratify its unanimous decision to back Portugal’s former prime minister Antonio Guterres as the organization’s next secretary-general. Russia’s U.N. Ambassador Vitaly Churkin, the current council president, said he hoped members will vote Thursday morning “by acclamation” to recommend Guterres’ candidacy. The 193-member General Assembly must then […]

, USA TODAY

The United Nations Security Council was expected Thursday to ratify its unanimous decision to back Portugal’s former prime minister Antonio Guterres as the organization’s next secretary-general.

Russia’s U.N. Ambassador Vitaly Churkin, the current council president, said he hoped members will vote Thursday morning “by acclamation” to recommend Guterres’ candidacy. The 193-member General Assembly must then approve it.

The veteran politician and diplomat was previously the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, a position he used to reform the UNHCR and build up its ability to respond to the largest displacement crisis since the end of World War II. He led the U.N. response to the Syrian civil war, Europe’s migrant crisis, the conflict in Ukraine and other global problems.

Guterres served at the UNHCR for a decade before stepping down in 2015. He was Portugal’s prime minister from 1995 to 2002. He said in an interview with the Associated Press on Wednesday night that he wants to be “an honest broker, a bridge-builder and someone that tries to create conditions for consensus.”

Guteres will replace outgoing career South Korean diplomat Ban Ki Moon, whose quiet style helped deliver two landmark initiatives, the Paris Agreement to address climate change, which the U.S. and China joined in September, and the Sustainable Development Goals for addressing poverty, announced by the U.N. in August.

Ban steps down Dec. 31.

Wednesday’s vote was unanimous, with three votes to “encourage” Guterres as the council’s choice, and two “no opinion” votes. All permanent five members of the Security Council — the United States, United Kingdom, France, Russia and China — were among the 13 “encourage” votes, meaning none would use their veto against the recommendation.

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