Africa's high hopes for new UN chief
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
Secretary- General Ban Ki-moon (right) meets with António Guterres, Secretary- General-designate.