Antonio Guterres Becomes New Secretary General of UN


On January 1st, 2017 Portuguese diplomat Antonio Guterres became the ninth Secretary General of the United Nations. Guterres is a career politician  who was Portugal’s Prime Minister  between 1995 and 2002. In the past decade Guterres served as the UN’s High Commissioner for Refugees.  The Portuguese succeeds Ban Ki-moon, who led the United Nations for 10 years.

Born in Lisbon on April 30, 1949 Antonio Guterres  went to an engineering school from where he graduated in 1971.  He started his political career in 1974 when he became a member of Portugal’s Socialist Party. When Portugal was freed from dictatorship in 1976 Guterres was elected a member of parliament. At the beginning of the 1990s he was named head of the Socialist Party and became Prime Minister shortly afterwards.

During his term as the High Commissioner Guterres witnessed a huge surge in the number of  refugees and displaced people. Today, over 60 million people are considered to be without a home, the highest number since World War II.

Many UN diplomats have welcomed the new Secretary General and praise him for his negotiating skills. In his first official interview, Guterres, who, besides his mother tongue, speaks English, French and Spanish,  stated that global terrorism and the worldwide refugee crisis were among his main priorities. He also announced that he was planning to make some major changes in the world organisation, including putting more women in higher positions.

The Secretary General is the highest official of the United Nations. As a type of world moderator, he must try to find solutions for conflicts around the world, ranging from global terrorism to climate change and population growth .


Antonio Guterres

Antonio Guterres - the new Secretary General of the United Nations - Image: Agência Brasil


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  • announce = to say officially
  • career politician = someone who has worked in politics their whole life
  • considered to be = people think that …
  • decade = ten years
  • dictatorship = country who is ruled only by one person who has all the power
  • diplomat = a politician who often works in other countries
  • displaced people = people who have been forced to leave their country because of war or disasters
  • elect = to choose someone for an official position
  • engineering = work in which you design and build roads, buildings, bridges etc…
  • global = worldwide
  • graduate = finish university or a higher school
  • head = leader
  • including = also
  • moderator = someone whose job it is to  control a discussion or an argument between two people or countries
  • negotiating skills = the way a person tries to solve a problem or reach an agreement between two parties
  • official = someone who is in a high position in an organisation
  • praise = to have a high opinion of someone
  • priority =  the thing that is most important to you and which you want to do first
  • range = here: including a number of things
  • refugee = person who had to leave their country because of war, or for political or religious reasons
  • serve = to work for an organization
  • solution = way of dealing with a difficult situation
  • state =to say officially
  • surge = if something goes up very quickly
  • term = time during which he was leader of the organisation
  • witness = observe, see