Antonio Guterres, full name Antonio Manuel de Oliveira Guterres, is the newly elected successor of UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon. Previously, he was the Prime Minister of Portugal from 1995 to 2002 and even served as UN High Commissioner for Refugees from 2005 to 2015. Guterres indeed has a long and successful history of international diplomacy.
Early Life and Education
Guterres was born on 30th April, 1949 to father Virgilio Dias and mother Iida Candida de Oliveira. He grew up in the capital city of Portugal, Lisbon.
For early education, Antonio joined Camoes Secondary School. Always an avid student in both academics and cocurricular activities, Guterres won National Lyceums Award in 1965. Then, he went to Instituto Superior Tecnico. In 1971, Guterres earned a degree in physics and electrical engineering.
Guterres has married two times in his life. At the age of 23, he tied the knot with Luísa Amélia Guimarães e Melo. The couple had two children: Pedro and Mariana Guimarães e Melo Guterres. After 13 years of Mariana’s birth in 1985, Guterres’ wife died fighting cancer at Royal Free Hospital. After 3 years of Luisa’s death, Guterres married Catarina Marques de Almeida Vaz Pinto. Catarina was just 41 then, but Guterres was already 52.
Antonio Guterres ventured into full-fledged politics at the age of 25. With a membership of the Socialist Party, he successfully executed numerous operations assigned to him while at various posts. Soon after joining the Socialist Party, he was appointed to the post of Head of Office of the Secretary of State of Industry. Then, he served Member of Parliament, Castelo Branco, for 19 years, starting in 1976.
As the time went by, Guterres’ fame in the political world increased significantly. By 1991, he had already established Portuguese Refugee Council. Likewise, he had played a crucial role to properly usher Portugal into the EU. This way, Guterres’ fame among the people rose significantly.
As the Socialist Party won the election, Antonio Guterres became nominated to lead Portuguese people as their Prime Minister. He officially succeeded Cavaco Silva on 28 October 1995. Economically, Guterres administration was very fruitful to Portugal. The country experienced a booming situation whereby government spending increased alongside a massive reduction in debt, privatization became more pervasive and share ownership turned into people’s choice of investment.
Moreover, Guterres’ government successfully held two referendums within a span of one year. Likewise, he was successful in finalizing negotiations on handing over Macau’s sovereignty to its people. With these unprecedented achievements, Guterres became people’s favorite and subsequently got reappointed for the post.
As Guterres entered the second term, his policies for economy didn’t work well. Hence, the nation suffered a massive slowdown. However, Guterres was diligent on formulating new policies such as decriminalization of drugs. Despite such efforts, the economy couldn’t revive. Hence, the Socialist party suffered a thrash in local elections. Consequently, Guterres had to resign.
Following the drop off from domestic politics, Guterres was elected to post of High Commissioner of UNHCR in 2005. From that point, Guterres’ global influence began to take shape. Heading 10,000 employees in 126 different nations wasn’t an easy task.
During the time at UNHCR, Guterres especially focused on refugees from war-torn Syria. He started a $5-billion project to help more than 10 million Syrian refugees. Likewise, he appointed Angelina Jolie as his Special Envoy. Guterres and Jolie were productive in lessening the problems in Kills Oncupinar, Zaatari and Maritime Squadron. Having attained significant feats, Guterres left the post on 31 December 2015.
As Bank Ki Moon’s tenure as a Secretary General was about to terminate, Guterres prepared to submit his candidacy for the soon-to-be vacant post. On 13 October 2016, Antonio Guterres got formally elected as the next UN Secretary General. He took the office on January 1, 2016. We have yet to see what Antonio Guterres’ tenure will bring to the world.
Donald Trump and Antonio Guterres
UN Secretary General Guterres and US President Donald Trump are like two world leaders with radically opposing views. While Guterres has a history of peace-making, Trump apparently seems to be arousing hate.
Recently, Secretary General Guterres condemned Trump’s discriminatory policy of banning immigration from seven Muslim countries. Guterres said that Trumpism is ‘against the fundamental principles and values on which our societies are based’. Unlike the present situation, these two world leaders should have common views on global issues to make the world – not just America – great again.