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António Guterres
António Guterres, 23.03.23.jpg
Guterres in 2023
Secretary-General of the United Nations
Assumed office
1 January 2017
Deputy Amina Mohammed
Preceded by Ban Ki-moon
United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees
In office
15 June 2005 – 31 December 2015
Preceded by Ruud Lubbers
Succeeded by Filippo Grandi
Prime Minister of Portugal
In office
28 October 1995 – 6 April 2002
Preceded by Aníbal Cavaco Silva
Succeeded by José Manuel Barroso
President of the Socialist International
In office
10 November 1999 – 15 June 2005
Secretary-General Luis Ayala
Preceded by Pierre Mauroy
Succeeded by George Papandreou
Secretary-General of the Socialist Party
In office
23 February 1992 – 21 January 2002
President António de Almeida Santos
Preceded by Jorge Sampaio
Succeeded by Eduardo Ferro Rodrigues
Leader of the Opposition
In office
23 February 1992 – 28 October 1995
Prime Minister Aníbal Cavaco Silva
Preceded by Jorge Sampaio
Succeeded by Fernando Nogueira
Member of the Assembly of the Republic
In office
3 June 1976 – 4 April 2002
Constituency Castelo Branco
Personal details
António Manuel de Oliveira Guterres

(1949-04-30) 30 April 1949 (age 75)
Parede, Cascais, Portugal
Political party Socialist
  • Luísa Guimarães e Melo
    (m. 1972; died 1998)
  • Catarina Vaz Pinto
    (m. 2001)
Children 2
Alma mater Instituto Superior Técnico, University of Lisbon

António Manuel de Oliveira Guterres GCC GCL ( born 30 April 1949) is a Portuguese politician and diplomat. Since 2017, he has served as secretary-general of the United Nations, the ninth person to hold this title.

A member of the Portuguese Socialist Party, Guterres served as prime minister of Portugal from 1995 to 2002.

Guterres served as secretary-general of the Socialist Party from 1992 to 2002. He was elected prime minister in 1995 and announced his resignation in 2002, after his party was defeated in the 2001 Portuguese local elections. After six years governing without an absolute majority and with a poor economy, the Socialist Party did worse than expected because of losses in Lisbon and Porto, where polls indicated they had a solid lead. Eduardo Ferro Rodrigues assumed the Socialist Party leadership in January 2002, but Guterres would remain as prime minister until the general election was lost to the Social Democratic Party, led by José Manuel Barroso. Despite this defeat, polling of the Portuguese public in both 2012 and 2014 ranked Guterres the best prime minister of the previous 30 years.

He served as president of the Socialist International from 1999 to 2005, and was the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees from 2005 to 2015. Guterres was elected secretary-general in October 2016, succeeding Ban Ki-moon at the beginning of the following year and becoming the first European to hold this office since Kurt Waldheim in 1981.

Early life, education, and early career

Guterres was born in Parede and raised in Lisbon, Portugal, the son of Virgílio Dias Guterres (1913–2009) and Ilda Cândida dos Reis Oliveira Guterres (1923–2021).

He attended the Camões Lyceum (now Camões Secondary School), where he graduated in 1965, winning the National Lyceums Award (Prémio Nacional dos Liceus) as the best student in the country. He studied physics and electrical engineering at Instituto Superior Técnico – Technical University of Lisbon in Lisbon. He graduated in 1971 and started an academic career as an assistant professor teaching systems theory and telecommunications signals, before leaving academic life to start a political career. During his university years, he joined the Group of Light, a club for young Catholics, where he met Father Vítor Melícias, a prominent Franciscan priest and church administrator who remains a close friend and confidant.

Political career

Guterres's political career began in 1974, when he became a member of the Socialist Party. Shortly thereafter, he quit academic life and became a full-time politician. In the period following the Carnation Revolution of 25 April 1974 that put an end to Caetano's dictatorship, Guterres became involved in Socialist Party leadership and held the following offices:

  • Head of Office of the Secretary of State of Industry (1974 and 1975)
  • Deputy for Castelo Branco in the Portuguese National Parliament (1976–1995)
  • Leader of the parliamentary bench of the Socialist Party, succeeding Jorge Sampaio (1988)

Guterres was a member of the team that negotiated the terms of Portugal's entry into the European Union in the late 1970s. He was a founding member of the Portuguese Refugee Council in 1991.

In 1992, after the Socialists' third consecutive defeat in Parliamentary elections, Guterres became secretary-general of the Socialist Party and leader of the opposition during Aníbal Cavaco Silva's government. At the time, he was the party's third leader in six years. He was also selected as one of the 25 vice presidents of the Socialist International in September 1992.

His election represented a break with tradition for the Socialists: not only was Guterres not associated with either the faction around then-president and former prime minister Mário Soares or the party's left wing led by Guterres's predecessor Sampaio, but he was also a devout Catholic, running counter to the party's historical secularism. He consulted with Portugal's civil society in formulating policy, meeting a range of intellectuals, scientists and entrepreneurs from across the country and the political spectrum in the run-up to the next general election.

Prime minister of Portugal

Aníbal Cavaco Silva did not seek a fourth term as prime minister of Portugal (in order to run for the 1996 presidential election) and the Socialist Party won the 1995 parliamentary election. President Soares appointed Guterres as prime minister and his cabinet took the oath of office on 28 October that year.

Guterres ran on a platform of keeping a tight hold on budget spending and inflation in a bid to ensure that Portugal met the Euro convergence criteria by the end of the decade, as well as increasing rates of participation in the labor market, especially among women, improving tax collection and cracking down on tax evasion, increased involvement of the mutual and nonprofit sectors in providing welfare services, a means-tested guaranteed minimum income (known as the Rendimento Minimo Garantido), and increased investment in education. He was then one of seven Social Democratic prime ministers in the European Union, joining political allies in Spain, Denmark, Finland, Sweden, Greece and the Netherlands.

First term (1995–1999)

Rueda de prensa de Felipe González y el primer ministro de Portugal. Pool Moncloa. 18 de enero de 1996
Guterres and Prime Minister of Spain Felipe González, in January 1996.

With a style markedly different from that of his predecessor, and based on dialogue and discussion with all sections of society, Guterres was a popular prime minister in his first years in office. Portugal was enjoying an economic expansion that allowed the Socialists to reduce budget deficits while increasing welfare spending and creating new conditional cash transfer programs. His government also accelerated the program of privatizations that Cavaco Silva's government had begun: 29 companies were privatized between 1996 and 1999, with proceeds from privatizations in 1996–97 greater than those of the previous six years, and the public sector's share of GDP halved from 11% in 1994 to 5.5% five years later. Share ownership was also widened, with 800,000 people investing in Portugal Telecom upon its privatization in 1996 and 750,000 applying for shares in Electricidade de Portugal.

In 1998, Guterres presided over Expo 98 in Lisbon, commemorating the 500th anniversary of the voyage of Vasco da Gama.

On foreign policy, Guterres campaigned for United Nations intervention in East Timor in 1999, after it was virtually destroyed by Indonesian-backed militias when it voted for independence. He also finalized the 12-year negotiations on the transfer of sovereignty over Macau, which had been a Portuguese colony, to Chinese control in 1999.

Second term (1999–2002)

António Guterres
Guterres in 2003

In the 1999 parliamentary election the Socialist Party and the opposition won exactly the same number of seats (115). Guterres was reappointed to office and from January to July 2000 occupied the six-month rotating presidency of the European Council. His second term in government was not as successful, however. Internal party conflicts, an economic slowdown, and the Hintze Ribeiro Bridge disaster damaged his authority and popularity. Nevertheless, some long-lasting measures were taken during his second term: in March 2001, same-sex civil unions were legalized.

In December 2001, following a disastrous defeat for the Socialist Party in local elections, Guterres resigned to "prevent the country from falling into a political swamp". President Jorge Sampaio dissolved Parliament and called for elections. Eduardo Ferro Rodrigues, until then minister for social security, assumed the Socialist Party leadership, but the general election was lost to the Social Democratic Party of José Manuel Durão Barroso, who later became president of the European Commission.

President of Socialist International

Guterres was elected president of Socialist International in November 1999, overlapping with his second term as prime minister of Portugal until his resignation from the latter post in December 2001. He remained president of the Socialist International until June 2005.

Diplomatic career

In 2005, following Guterres's proposal, George Papandreou was elected vice president of the Socialist International; in 2006, Papandreou succeeded him as president of the Socialist International.

In May 2005, Guterres was elected High Commissioner for Refugees for a five-year term by the UN General Assembly, replacing Ruud Lubbers.

High Commissioner for Refugees

As High Commissioner, Guterres headed one of the world's largest humanitarian organizations, which at the end of his term had more than 10,000 staff working in 126 countries providing protection and assistance to over 60 million refugees, returnees, internally displaced people and stateless persons. His time in office was marked by a fundamental organizational reform, cutting staff and administrative costs in the UNHCR's Geneva head office and expanding UNHCR's emergency response capacity during the worst displacement crisis since the Second World War.

From 19 to 23 March 2006, Guterres visited Beijing, China, and expressed his objection to repatriation of North Korean refugees by the Chinese government.

In a February 2007 NPR interview devoted mainly to the plight of Iraqi refugees, Guterres said that this was one of the greatest refugee crises in the Middle East since 1948. Among poorly publicized refugee crises, he cited those in the Central African Republic and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. During his final years as High Commissioner, he worked chiefly to secure international aid for the refugees of the Syrian civil war, calling the refugee crisis an "existential" one for host countries (such as Lebanon and Jordan), and calling additional aid a "matter of survival" for the refugees. He was an outspoken advocate for a more coordinated and humane approach by European countries to the Mediterranean refugee crisis. In June 2013, he launched a US$5 billion aid effort, its biggest ever, to help up to 10.25 million Syrians that year.

António Guterres 2012
Guterres, 2012

In what was widely considered a very effective PR move, Guterres appointed American actress Angelina Jolie as his special envoy to represent UNHCR and himself at the diplomatic level in 2012. Together they visited the Kilis Oncupinar Accommodation Facility in Turkey (2012); the Zaatari refugee camp in Jordan (2013); and the Maritime Squadron of the Armed Forces of Malta (2015). They also appeared jointly before the United Nations Security Council (2015).

In early 2015, the General Assembly voted to extend Guterres's mandate by 612 months to 31 December, on recommendation of United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. In light of the European migrant crisis, the UNHCR's 98-member executive committee (EXCOM) later requested that Ban recommend extending Guterres's term by another year, but Ban disregarded the request. Guterres left office on 31 December 2015, having served the second-longest term as High Commissioner in the organization's history, after Prince Sadruddin Aga Khan.

In 2015, President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa appointed Guterres to serve as a Member of the Council of State of Portugal; he resigned after being appointed as the UN's 9th secretary-general.

United Nations secretary-general


Guterres 03
Guterres, 2016

Guterres became United Nations Secretary-General on 1 January 2017, following his formal election by the UN General Assembly on 13 October 2016.

Michel Temer e António Guterres
Guterres with Brazilian President Michel Temer in Brasilia, Brazil, 31 October 2016

On 29 February 2016, Guterres submitted his nomination as Portugal's candidate for the 2016 UN secretary-general selection. This was the first time candidates for secretary-general had to present their platform in public hearings in the UN General Assembly, a process during which Guterres emerged as a much stronger candidate than had been initially expected, given that he fit the bill on neither the gender nor the geographic scores.

On 5 October, the 15-member United Nations Security Council announced that it had agreed to nominate Guterres, after an informal secret ballot in which he gained 13 "encourage" votes and two "no opinion" votes. The Security Council officially nominated Guterres in a formal resolution on 6 October. A week later, he was formally elected by the United Nations General Assembly in its 71st session. Guterres took office on 1 January 2017.

Secretary Kerry Shakes Hands With UN Secretary-General-Designate Guterres After Addressing Reporters in Washington (30472809790)
Guterres and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry shake hands, 4 November 2016
Vladimir Putin and António Guterres (2016-11-24) 04
Guterres with Russian President Vladimir Putin and Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, 24 November 2016

First term

President Donald J. Trump and United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres at the United Nations General Assembly (37425398212)
Guterres with U.S. President Donald Trump, 2 October 2017

On 1 January 2017, on his first day as secretary-general of the United Nations, Guterres pledged to make 2017 a year for peace.

António Guterres, Sheikh Tamim Al-Thani und Jens Stoltenberg MSC 2018
Guterres, Qatar's Emir Tamim bin Hamad and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, 2018
ПМЭФ (2019) 4
Guterres with Nikol Pashinyan, Rumen Radev, Xi Jinping, Sophie Shevardnadze, Vladimir Putin and Peter Pellegrini at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum, June 2019
2019 74ª Sessão da Assembleia Geral das Nações Unidas - 48788490037
Guterres with Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, September 2019

In September 2018, during his address to the 73rd United Nations General Assembly, Guterres became the first secretary to say that advancing technology will disrupt labor markets like never before and to advocate stronger safety nets like Universal Basic Income.

In June 2019, Guterres stated that the "U.N. has the obligation to assume global leadership" in tackling climate change in the context of a visit to the pacific island of Tuvalu. He had previously supported other multilateral environmental initiatives, such as ecocide becoming a crime at the International Criminal Court and the Global Pact for the Environment that was put forward by France in September 2017.

On 22 September, he appealed for global solidarity to overcome COVID-19, and again called for a global ceasefire by the end of 2020. In September 2020, Guterres stated that he would continue with "a serious dialogue" with UN member states, for a comprehensive Reform of the UN Security Council.

Second term

P20211101AS-0357 (51846489866)
Guterres with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and U.S. President Joe Biden at COP26, November 2021

On 8 June 2021, the United Nations Security Council expressed support for his re-election as secretary-general. On 18 June 2021, Guterres was appointed for a second term by a voting season of the United Nations General Assembly.

In July 2021 Guterres stated it was "highly desirable" to make ecocide a crime at the International Criminal Court.

Signing Ceremony of the Black Sea Grain Initiative in Istanbul
Guterres with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan signing the deal to allow exports of grain from blockaded Ukrainian ports, July 2022

In January 2023, Guterres called for a global effort to transform education and added that it was time to “translate their Summit Commitments into concreate actions”, create an inclusive learning environment that supports all students and “to end all the discriminatory laws and practices that hinder access to education”.

In July 2023, Guterres proposed the creation of an international body to oversee artificial intelligence. He stated that "Generative AI has enormous potential for good and evil at scale. Its creators themselves have warned that much bigger, potentially catastrophic and existential risks lie ahead". He also said that the United Nations has an opportunity to adopt rules that make consensus and to foster international coordination.

Other activities

  • Dag Hammarskjöld Fund for journalists, chairman of the Honorary Advisory Council
  • Caixa Geral de Depósitos, advisor to the board (2003–2005)
  • Champalimaud Foundation, member of the Vision Award Jury
  • Clean Cooking Alliance, member of the Leadership Council
  • Club of Madrid, member (since 2002)
  • European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR), member
  • International Gender Champions (IGC), Member
  • European Regional Innovation Awards, chairman of the Jury (2004)
  • Friends of Europe, member of the board of trustees
  • Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, non-executive member of the board of trustees (2013–2018)
  • World Economic Forum (WEF), member of the Global Agenda Council on Humanitarian Assistance (2008–2009)
  • He resigned from the International Peace Institute in October 2020.

Personal life

In 1972, Guterres married child psychiatrist Luísa Amélia Guimarães e Melo, with whom he had two children, Pedro Guimarães e Melo Guterres (born 1977) and Mariana Guimarães e Melo de Oliveira Guterres (born 1985). His wife died of cancer at the Royal Free Hospital in London in 1998 at the age of 51.

In 2001, Guterres married Catarina Marques de Almeida Vaz Pinto (born 1960), a former Portuguese state secretary for culture and culture secretary for the City Council of Lisbon.

In addition to his native Portuguese, Guterres speaks English, French, and Spanish.

Guterres is a practicing Catholic.




  • PRT Order of Christ - Grand Cross BAR.svg Grand Cross of the Military Order of Christ (9 June 2002)
  • PRT Order of Liberty - Grand Cross BAR.svg Grand Cross of the Order of Liberty (2 February 2016)


  •  Pará: Grand Collar of the National Order of Merit of Grão Pará (4 April 2002)

Honorary degrees

  • 2010 – Honorary Doctorate, University of Beira Interior
  • 2014 – Honorary Doctorate, Meiji University
  • 2016 – Honorary Doctorate of Laws, Carleton University
  • 2016 – Honorary Doctorate, University of Coimbra
  • 2016 – Honorary Doctorate, European University of Madrid
  • 2017 – Honorary Doctorate, University of South Carolina
  • 2021 – Honorary Doctorate of Law, University of Cambridge
  • 2022 – Honorary Doctorate, National University of Córdoba
  • 2022– Honorary Degree, Seton Hall University

Other awards

  • 2005 – Personality of the Year by the Foreign Press Association in Portugal (Associação de Imprensa Estrangeira em Portugal, AIEP)
  • 2007 – Freedom Award (shared with Angelina Jolie)
  • 2009 – Calouste Gulbenkian International Prize (shared with the Peace Research Institute in the Middle East)
  • 2009 – Forbes List of The World's Most Powerful People in 2009
  • 2015 – W. Averell Harriman Democracy Award
  • 2015 – The National German Sustainability Award
  • 2019 – Charlemagne Prize

See also

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