Africa's high hopes for new UN chief

Africa Renewal - - Africa Watch - BY IHUOMA ATANGA

As­the world waits in an­tic­i­pa­tion for the be­gin­ning of a new era in global diplo­macy, An­tónio Manuel de Oliveira Guter­res com­mences his term as the new Sec­re­tary- Gen­eral of the United Na­tions.

Diplo­mats at UN head­quar­ters rushed to con­grat­u­late Mr. Guter­res, 67, when he was se­lected out of a pool of 12 can­di­dates vy­ing for the po­si­tion last Oc­to­ber. South Africa's am­bas­sador, Jerry Matthews Matjila, re­ferred to him as a “friend of Africa.” Oth­ers took to so­cial me­dia to con­grat­u­late him.

Africa, like the rest of the world, will be watch­ing closely as he turns his at­ten­tion to is­sues of global peace and se­cu­rity, hu­man­i­tar­ian as­sis­tance, cli­mate change and the 17 Sus­tain­able De­vel­op­ment Goals (SDGs) that will drive the global de­vel­op­ment agenda in the next decade or so.

While his ex­pe­ri­ence with Rwanda, South Su­dan and So­ma­lia, among other cri­sis re­gions, makes him an apt can­di­date for what some con­sider the world's most im­por­tant job, the ques­tion re­mains: what does his ap­point­ment mean for Africa?

Born in Lis­bon in 1949, Mr. Guter­res has spent much of his pro­fes­sional life in pol­i­tics and public ser­vice. Be­fore oc­cu­py­ing the po­si­tion of Por­tu­gal's prime min­is­ter from 1995 to 2002, he held var­i­ous posts within the So­cial­ist Party from 1974 to 1995. He served as pres­i­dent of the So­cial­ist In­ter­na­tional un­til 2005, when he was elected high com­mis­sioner for refugees ( UNHCR) — head of the UN agency tasked with p pro­tect­ing g the rightsg and well-be­ing of refugees. Dur­ing that time the num­ber of peo­ple dis­placed by con­flict and per­se­cu­tion­cu­tion rose from 38 mil­lion in 2005 to over 60 mil­lion in 2015.

As high com­mis­sioner,is­sioner, Mr. Guter­res headed one of the world's largest hu­man­i­tar­ian man­i­tar­ian or­ga­ni­za­tions, whichich at the end of his term m had more than 10,000 staff

UN Photo/Eskinder De­bebe

Sec­re­tary- Gen­eral Ban Ki-moon (right) meets with An­tónio Guter­res, Sec­re­tary- Gen­eral-des­ig­nate.

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