Portugal’s Antonio Guterres emerges as favourite for next UN Secretary-General

09:11 AM | 6 Oct, 2016
Portugal’s Antonio Guterres emerges as favourite for next UN Secretary-General
UNITED NATIONS - Former Portuguese Prime Minister Antonio Guterres has emerged as the clear favourite to become the next United Nations Secretary-General following the sixth secret ballot held Wednesday by the UN Security Council, which is expected to take a formal decision tomorrow and forward Guterres name to the 193-Member General Assembly for final confirmation.

In a rare show of unity, all 15 ambassadors from the security council emerged from the sixth in a series of straw polls to announce that they had agreed on Guterres, who was UN high commissioner for refugees for a decade, and that they would confirm the choice in a formal vote on Thursday.

Today after our sixth straw poll we have a clear favourite and his name is Antonio Guterres, Russian UN ambassador Vitaly Churkin, who is the president of 15-nation body, told reporters with his 14 Council colleagues standing behind him.

Earlier, Ambassador Churkin officially informed the President of the General Assembly, Peter Thomson, about the emergence of Antonio Guterres as the unanimous choice among the Councils 15 members.

In addition to Guterres, who served as the UN High Commissioner for Refugees from 2005 to 2015, 12 other candidates were in the running to succeed the current UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon, who leaves office at the end of the year.

Todays decision by the Security Council brings the UN closer towards the culmination of an historic process: the selection of a new United Nations Secretary-General, traditionally decided behind closed-doors by a few powerful countries, has for the first time in history, involved public discussions with each candidate campaigning for the worlds top diplomatic post.

These so-called informal briefings between the candidates, UN Member States and civil society representatives kicked off on 12 April, when the first three candidates presented their vision statements and answered questions on how they would promote sustainable development, improve efforts to create peace, protect human rights, and deal with huge humanitarian catastrophes should they be selected to lead the Organization.

In addition, this past July, the UN held its first-ever globally

televised and webcast townhall-style debate in the General Assembly Hall, where the confirmed candidates at the time took questions from diplomats and the public at large.

Having referred to the process as a game changer for the

Organization, the President of the 70th General Assembly, Mogens Lykketoft said:I am very proud that we broke new ground with unique transparency in the selection process.

The two-hour presentation of each of the candidates in the General Assembly dialogues, and their collective Global Townhall debate, were important highlights and helped to include the global public in the debate about the future of the UN.

As UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Guterres last year visited Pakistan where he met the country’s leadership and toured some Afghan Refugees camps.