António Manuel de Oliveira Guterres GCC GCL
Early life, education, and early career Guterres was born and raised in Lisbon
, the son of Virgílio Dias Guterres (1913–2009) and Ilda Cândida de Oliveira (born 1923).
Guterres's 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.
He was a founding member of the Portuguese Refugee Council in 1991.
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 led by Guterres's predecessor Sampaio, but he was also a devout Catholic, running counter to the party's historical secularism. He consulted 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.
Prime Minister of Portugal
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 labor market, especially among women, improving tax collection and cracking down on tax evasion, increased involvement of the mutual
sectors in providing welfare services, a means-tested guaranteed minimum income
(known as the Rendimento Minimo Garantido
), and increased investment in education.
He was then one of seven Social Democratic prime ministers in the European Union
, joining political allies in Spain
and the Netherlands
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 his first years in office. Portugal was enjoying an economic expansion that allowed the Socialists to reduce budget deficits while increasing welfare spending and creating new conditional cash transfer
His government also accelerated the program of privatizations that Cavaco Silva
's government had begun: 29 companies were privatized between 1996 and 1999, with proceeds from privatizations in 1996–97 greater than those of the previous six years, and the public sector's share of GDP halved from 11% in 1994 to 5.5% five years later. Share ownership was also widened, with 800,000 people investing in Portugal Telecom
upon its privatization in 1996 and 750,000 applying for shares in Electricidade de Portugal
In 1998, Guterres presided over Expo 98
in Lisbon, commemorating the 500th anniversary of the voyage of Vasco da Gama
Also in 1998, two nationwide referenda were held. The first one
was held in June and asked voters whether abortion
rules should be liberalized. The Socialist Party split over the issue of liberalization, and Guterres led the pro-life side, which eventually won the referendum.
A second referendum
was held in November, this time over the regionalization of the mainland
. Both Guterres and his party supported such an administrative reform, but the voters rejected it.
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 it was "something that bothered him".
António Guterres in 2003
In the 1999 parliamentary election
the Socialist Party and the opposition won exactly the same number of MPs (115). Guterres was reappointed to office and from January to July 2000 occupied the six-month rotating presidency of the European Council
. His second term in government was not as successful, however. Internal party conflicts, an economic slowdown, and the Hintze Ribeiro Bridge disaster
damaged his authority and popularity. Nevertheless, some long-lasting measures were taken during his second term: in October 2000, the Parliament approved the decriminalization of drug use
(effective 1 July 2001)
and in March 2001, same-sex civil unions
President of Socialist International
Guterres was elected president of Socialist International
in November 1999,
overlapping with his second term as prime minister of Portugal until his resignation from the latter post in December 2001. He remained president of the Socialist International until June 2005.
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
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.
On 19–23 March 2006, Guterres visited Beijing
, China, and expressed his objection to repatriation of North Korean
refugees by the Chinese government.
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
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 calling additional aid a "matter of survival" for the refugees.
He was an outspoken advocate for a more coordinated and humane approach by European countries to the Mediterranean refugee crisis.
In June 2013, he launched a US$5 billion aid effort, its biggest ever, to help up to 10.25 million Syrians that year.
In early 2015, the General Assembly voted to extend Guterres's mandate by 61
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's term by another year, but Ban disregarded the request.
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
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.
On 29 February 2016, Guterres submitted his nomination as Portugal's candidate for the 2016 UN Secretary-General selection.
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.
On 5 October, the 15-member United Nations Security Council
announced that it had agreed to nominate Guterres, after an informal secret ballot in which he gained 13 "encourage" votes and two "no opinion" votes.
The Security Council officially nominated Guterres in a formal resolution on 6 October. A week later, he was formally elected by the United Nations General Assembly
in its 71st session
. Guterres took office on 1 January 2017.
The UN's role in the Haiti cholera outbreak
was widely discussed and criticized
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.
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 believed compensation should be provided.
Guterres responded by calling the situation a "particularly complex question", saying it was 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".
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".
Though many had hoped Guterres's term would mark a break with the inaction that characterized Ban's response to the epidemic, Guterres has done little to signal a commitment to Haitian cholera victims. As of April 2017, five months into his 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.
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's administration before being rehabilitated in court.
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," he said.
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."
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.
On 1 January 2017, on his first day at the helm of the United Nations as secretary-general, Guterres pledged to make 2017 a year for peace. "Let us resolve to put peace first," he said.
On 20 June 2017, "Secretary-General António Guterres warned the Trump administration, that if the United States disengages from many issues confronting the international community it will be replaced".
In response to the death of Chinese Nobel Peace Prize
laureate Liu Xiaobo
, who died of organ failure while in government custody, Guterres said he was deeply saddened.
In March 2018, Guterres said the population of Syria's Eastern Ghouta
was 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.
In June 2019, Guterres stated that the "U.N. has the obligation to assume global leadership" in tackling climate change
in the context of a visit to the pacific island of Tuvalu
He had previously supported other multilateral environmental initiatives, such as the Global Pact for the Environment
that was put forward by France
in September 2017.
Guterres expressed his "deep concern" at the spiralling violence in Syria a day after Turkey launched an offensive in Kurdish-controlled areas
. He said any solution to the conflict needed to respect the sovereignty of the territory and the unity of Syria.
On 10 August 2020, responding to an explosion in Beirut
, Guterres expressed his support for all people in need in Lebanon
, especially women and girls who are most vulnerable in times of crisis.
On 22 September, he appealed for global solidarity to overcome COVID-19
, and again called for a global ceasefire by the end of 2020.
- Dag Hammarskjöld Fund for journalists, chairman of the Honorary Advisory Council
- Caixa Geral de Depósitos, advisor to the board (2003–2005)
- Champalimaud Foundation, member of the Vision Award Jury
- Clean Cooking Alliance, member of the Leadership Council
- Club of Madrid, member (since 2002)
- European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR), member
- International Gender Champions (IGC), Member
- European Regional Innovation Awards, chairman of the Jury (2004)
- Friends of Europe, member of the board of trustees
- Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, non-executive member of the board of trustees (2013–2018)
- World Economic Forum (WEF), member of the Global Agenda Council on Humanitarian Assistance (2008–2009)
- He resigned from the International Peace Institute in October 2020.
In 1972, Guterres married child psychiatrist
Luísa Amélia Guimarães e Melo, with whom he had two children, Pedro Guimarães e Melo Guterres (born 1977) and Mariana Guimarães e Melo de Oliveira Guterres (born 1985). His wife died of cancer at the Royal Free Hospital
in 1998 at the age of 51.
In 2001, Guterres married Catarina Marques de Almeida Vaz Pinto (b. 1960),
a former Portuguese State Secretary for Culture and Culture Secretary for the City Council of Lisbon.
Guterres is a practicing Catholic
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.
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Last edited on 14 May 2021, at 17:55
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