United Nations: A former prime minister of Portugal, Antonio Guterres, will be sworn in today as the new secretary general of the United Nations.
Guterres, 67, served as prime minister from 1995 to 2002, and was UN high commissioner for refugees from June 2005 to December 2015. He was formally named the world’s top diplomat in October and will start his new role Jan. 1.
The swearing-in ceremony is expected to start at 10 a.m. ET in the UN’s General Assembly hall in New York City.
Guterres was selected through a new process, which included the first-ever televised town hall debates between the 12 candidates. The selection process was changed to allow public discussion and more transparency about how the secretary general is chosen.
Guterres will take over from Ban Ki-moon, secretary general for the past decade. Ban praised the man who is replacing him.
“Secretary general-elect Guterres is well known to all of us in the hall. But he is perhaps best known where it counts most: on the front lines of armed conflict and humanitarian suffering,” referring to his time as head of the UN refugee agency,” Ban said.
As head of the UN Refugee Agency, Guterres made the agency more efficient and introduced needs-based budgeting, during an increase in people displaced by conflict, particularly in Syria, Iraq, South Sudan, the Central African Republic and Yemen.
He had said the world was too slow to respond to the world’s refugee crisis and only took notice once refugees started arriving in Europe.
“Unfortunately only when the poor enter the halls of the rich, do the rich notice that the poor exist,” Guterres said in September 2015.