Better Know Antonio Guterres, your Next UN Secretary General

Last week the UN General Assembly officially elected Antonio Guterres as the next UN Secretary General. Guterres is a well known figure around the UN and in global politics more broadly. From 2005 to 2015 he served as the UN High Commissioner for refugees and before that he served as Prime Minister of Portugal.

His term begins on January 1st and I thought it would be useful and interesting to learn more about Guterres from two distinct perspectives.

This episode is in two parts. First, I speak with the Portuguese political commentator Pedro adao e Silva who discusses Guterres’ political career and more broadly the political context in which Guterres emerged as a national leader and political figure. We discuss some of the key moments of his term as Prime Minister and how his experience during the Portuguese revolution against a authoritarian regime may shape his performance as Secretary General.

Next, I speak with Michel Gabaudan, who is the president of the advocacy organization Refugees International. Gabaudan was a senior official at the UN Refugee Agency for many years and served in top positions under Guterres. He offers some perspective on Guterres’ leadership style of a complex UN agency and shares some insights into his skill sets, and how he interacts with powerful member states like the USA.

I was so glad to get both perspectives. Guterres is someone who I’ve followed closely as the UN Refugee Chief. I’ve seen him speak on numerous occasions, and both Pedro and Michel do a good job helping me understand how someone who has been so outspoken, in the words of Michel “speaks truth to power,” could still win the favor of the world’s most powerful country.

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