Antonio Guterres is a great choice for United Nation’s new Secretary-General
He assumes new responsibilities in early 2017
Opinion column By Sultan Jessa
Canada: United Nations will soon have a new Secretary-General.
Antonio Guterres of Portugal will face colossal challenges when he replaces Ban Ki-moon of South Korea early next year.
Despite earlier reports, Guterres was the unanimous choice of the world body.
Many expected the job would go to a woman.
Among more than a dozen contenders for the top job of the world body were seven women.
Guterres is most likely to select a woman as deputy secretary general.
He is on record saying “gender parity” is crucial at the United Nations.
Guterres, a former Prime Minister of Portugal, is an excellent choice.
His immediate tasks on assuming the leadership of the 193-member United Nations general assembly is to find solutions to ease growing tensions between America and Russia, bring an end to many regional wars, restoring peace in Syria, the climate change and a horde of other world problems.
The new UN secretary general has experience, endless energy and determination and also diplomatic finesse to tackle many of the problems, among them the refugee crisis.
Guterres served as United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees from 2005 to 2015.
The hard-working and charismatic man was the guest speaker at the Global Centre for Pluralism’s third annual lecture in Ottawa.
The centre was established in partnership with the Canadian government.
It was inspired by Canada’s experience as a highly diverse society with a long term commitment to welcoming and supporting newcomers.
His Highness the Aga Khan said Guterres has been a passionate and effective advocate of world issues, particularly the refugees and the responsibility of society to support and integrate them.
Prince Sadruddin Aga Khan served as United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees from 1965 to 1977.
I interviewed Prince Sadruddin several times in Dar es Salaam and Nairobi when I worked as a journalist in East Africa.
Guterres served as prime minister of Portugal from 1995 to 2002.
There is no doubt he has experience in dealing with world problems.
He effectively dealt with the displacement of millions fleeing wars in Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq and elsewhere by providing food and shelter and finding them refuge in other countries.
The refugee problem continues to mushroom and is almost out of control now with more conflicts around the globe.
Guterres has shown determination and courage in pressuring western nations to accept more refugees by hammering out agreements in difficult circumstances.
Many experts believe Guterres could change directions the world body has taken so far.
The UN needs a new direction and Guterres maybe the person to do the job.
Guterres was born in Lisbon in 1949 and studied engineering and physics and later joined politics.
The new UN boss is fluent in Portuguese, English, Spanish and French.
He will continue to get the world’s richest nations to do more for those fleeing conflict and disaster around the globe.
Guterres will try to restore United Nations lost credibility and take the decision making body in a different direction with his vision and versatility.