5 Things You Need to Know about the New UN Secretary General

Antonio Guterres is the next U.N. Chief

Credit: DFID - UK Department for International Development

Antonio Guterres was sworn in as the ninth U.N. Secretary General at a ceremony on December 12. He will take office on January 1, 2017. Guterres said, that the U.N. “must focus more on delivery and less on process, more on people and less on bureaucracy” in his address to the 193 member nations. He also said that he would focus more on gender equality within the organisation. The Secretary General functions as the head of the United Nations Secretariat and is supposed to be neutral and not display allegiance towards any member nation. Here are five things you need to know about the latest U.N. chief:

1. He’s a Former Prime Minister

António Manuel de Oliveira Guterres was Prime Minister of Portugal from 1995 to 2002. He was also leader of the Socialist Party, a Portuguese political party.

2. He’s a Former United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees

From June 15, 2005 to December 31, 2015, Guterres served as the 10th United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. The organisation, which is part of the UNDP (United Nations Development Group), provides support to refugees at the behest of a government or the UN itself. They are also help refugees who wish to return to their country of origin and help them resettle in another country.

3. He Was a Star Student

In 1965, Guterres won the National Lyceums Award (Prémio Nacional dos Liceus). The award is handed out to the best student in Portugal. He went on to study physics and electrical engineering and was an assistant professor who taught Systems Theory and Telecommunications Signals before he left to join politics.

4. He Has Been Awarded by Several Nations

Guterres has won Portugal’s Grand Cross of the Order of Liberty, France’s Grand Cross of the National Order of Merit and other national honours from around a dozen nations for his services.

5. He’s a Member of the Club of Madrid

The organisation is made up former democratic presidents and prime ministers from around the world and helps foster democratic development