António Guterres

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His Excellency
António Guterres
GCC
António Guterres 2012.jpg
U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees
Incumbent
Assumed office
15 June 2005
Preceded by Ruud Lubbers
114th Prime Minister of Portugal
In office
28 October 1995 – 6 April 2002
President Mário Soares
Jorge Sampaio
Preceded by Aníbal Cavaco Silva
Succeeded by José Manuel Barroso
President of the Socialist International
In office
1999–2005
Preceded by Pierre Mauroy
Succeeded by George Papandreou
Secretary-General of the Socialist Party
In office
1992–2002
Preceded by Jorge Sampaio
Succeeded by Ferro Rodrigues
Member of the Assembly of the Republic
from the Castelo Branco district
In office
4 November 1991 – 6 April 2002
VI, VII and VIII Legislatures
Member of the Assembly of the Republic
from the Lisbon district
In office
3 June 1976 – 3 November 1991
I to V Legislatures
Personal details
Born (1949-04-30) 30 April 1949 (age 65)
Lisbon, Portugal
Political party Socialist Party
Spouse(s) Catarina de Almeida Vaz Pinto (2001–present)
Luísa Amélia Guimarães e Melo (1972–1998, her death)
Children Pedro Guimarães e Melo Guterres
Mariana Guimarães e Melo Guterres
Religion Roman Catholicism

António Manuel de Oliveira Guterres, GCC (Portuguese pronunciation: [ɐ̃ˈtɔniu ɡuˈtɛʁɨʃ]; born 30 April 1949) is a former Portuguese politician, prime minister and President of the Socialist International. Currently he is the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.

Early life[edit]

António Guterres was born and raised in Portugal's capital, Lisbon, son of Virgílio Dias Guterres (b. São José, Lisbon, 21 October 1913) and wife Ilda Cândida de Oliveira (b. Fundão, Donas, 12 February 1923). He studied physics and electrical engineering at IST. He graduated in 1971 and started an academic career as Assistant Professor.

Political career[edit]

His political career started in 1974, when he joined 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, which put an end to Caetano's dictatorship, Guterres was closely involved in the organization of the Socialist Party, especially the Lisbon section. Guterres became one of the party leaders and held the following offices:

  • Head of Office of the Secretary of State of Industry (1974 and 1975)
  • Deputy for Lisbon, and later Castelo Branco in the Portuguese National Parliament (1976–1995), during which he was responsible for several parliamentary commissions
  • Leader of the parliamentary bench of the Socialist Party, succeeding Jorge Sampaio (1988)

In 1992, he became president of the Socialist Party and leader of the opposition against Aníbal Cavaco Silva's government. He was also nominated vice-president of the Socialist International in September of the same year.

Following the retirement of Cavaco Silva in 1995, the Socialist Party won the general election and Guterres became Prime Minister of Portugal. With a style markedly different from that of his predecessor, based on dialogue and discussion with all sections of society, Guterres was a popular prime minister in the first years of his government. Portugal was enjoying a solid economic expansion which allowed the Socialists to increase welfare spending and introduce a number of progressive social security initiatives.[1] Also important was the successful staging of Expo´98, which increased Portugal's visibility in the world.

Guterres was re-elected in 1999, and from January to July 2000, he occupied the Presidency of the European Council. This second term in government was not as successful however. Internal party conflicts along with an economic recession and the Hintze Ribeiro disaster damaged his authority and popularity.

In December 2001, following a disastrous result for the Socialist Party in the local elections, Guterres resigned, stating that "I am resigning to prevent the country from falling into a political swamp", and President Jorge Sampaio dissolved the 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, the current President of the European Commission. Guterres retired from Portuguese politics and worked as President of the Socialist International until 2005.

Guterres is a member of the Club of Madrid,[2] an independent non-profit organization composed of democratic former Presidents and Prime Ministers from 57 different countries, and which works to strengthen democratic institutions and leadership.

Work as High Commissioner for Refugees[edit]

In May 2005 Guterres was elected High Commissioner for Refugees by the UN General Assembly for a five-year term. In April 2010, the General Assembly re-elected him to a second five-year term. As High Commissioner, he heads one of the world's largest humanitarian organizations with more than 7,000 staff working in 126 countries providing protection and assistance to millions of refugees, returnees, internally displaced people and stateless persons. More than 85 per cent of UNHCR staff work in the field. The organization's 2013 budget is over USD 5 billion.

In a 16 February 2007 NPR interview devoted mainly to the plight of Iraqi refugees, he said that this was one of the greatest refugee crisis 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.[3] More recently, he has been working 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 describing additional aid as a "matter of survival" for the refugees.[4]

Personal life[edit]

On New Year's Eve 1974, Guterres married Luísa Amélia Guimarães e Melo (b. Porto, 1 September 1946), with whom he had two children, Pedro Guimarães e Melo Guterres (b. 1977) and Mariana Guimarães e Melo de Oliveira Guterres (b. 1985). His wife died of cancer at the Royal Free Hospital in London on 28 January 1998.

On 9 April 2001, he married his second wife Catarina de Almeida Vaz Pinto, born on 15 June 1960. He has a stepson, natural son of his second wife by José Carlos da Costa Ramos, named Francisco Vaz Pinto da Costa Ramos, born on 20 May 1998.

Distinctions[5][edit]

  • Grand Cross of the Order of Christ (Portugal, 2002)
  • Great Ribbon of the Order of Leopold ( Belgium , 2000)
  • Grand Cross of the Order of the Southern Cross ( Brazil , 1996)
  • United Koll Order of the Southern Cross (Brazil, 2002)
  • Grand Cross of the Order of Merit ( Chile , 2001)
  • Grand Cross of the National Order of Merit ( France , 2002)
  • Grand Cross of the Order of Honour ( Greece , 2000)
  • Koll of the Order of Isabel the Catholic ( Spain , 2002)
  • Great Ribbon of the Order of the Rising Sun ( Japan , 2002)
  • Ribbon of the Order of the Aztec Eagle ( Mexico , 1999)
  • Grand Cross of the Order of Merit of the Polish Republic (1997)
  • Order of Prince Yaroslav the Wise First Class ( Ukraine , 2002)
  • Medal Oriental Republic of Uruguay (1998)
  • Great Ribbon of the Order of the Republic ( Tunisia , 2002)
  • Order of Merit of the Italian Republic and the class of the Great Koll ( Italy , 2002)

References[edit]

  1. ^ http://www.issa.int/Observatory/Country-Profiles/Regions/Europe/Portugal/Reforms2
  2. ^ The Club of Madrid is an independent non-profit organization composed of 81 democratic former Presidents and Prime Ministers from 57 different countries. It constitutes the world´s largest forum of former Heads of State and Government, who have come together to respond to a growing demand for support among leaders in democratic leadership, governance, crisis and post-crisis situations. All lines of work share the common goal of building functional and inclusive societies, where the leadership experience of the members is most valuable.
  3. ^ Interview with António Guterres, the United Nations high commissioner for refugees, 16 February 2007, Weekend Edition-Saturday, http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=7466089
  4. ^ Alrababa'h, Ala'; Jarrar, Ghazi (August 18, 2013). "Syrian Refugees: Time To Do The Right Thing". Sharnoff's Global Views. Retrieved September 2, 2013. 
  5. ^ "http://pl.wikipedia.org/wiki/António_Guterres". 
Assembly seats
Preceded by
Title jointly held
Member of Parliament for Castelo Branco
1976–1983
Succeeded by
Title jointly held
Member of Parliament for Castelo Branco
1985–2002
Party political offices
Preceded by
Pierre Mauroy
President of the Socialist International
1999–2005
Succeeded by
George A. Papandreou
Preceded by
Jorge Sampaio
General Secretary of the Socialist Party
1992–2002
Succeeded by
Ferro Rodrigues
Political offices
Preceded by
Aníbal Cavaco Silva
Prime Minister of Portugal
1995–2002
Succeeded by
Durão Barroso