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Former Prime Minister of Portugal will be the next UN Secretary General. During his time as UN High Commissioner for Refugees, he always defended the importance of faith organisations´work.
Antonio Guterres, who was prime minister of Portugal from 1995 to 2002, will be the next UN secretary general, after the security council agreed he should replace Ban Ki-moon at the beginning of next year.
The envoys representing the 15 members of the Council, including the five veto-wielding permanent members, decided by acclamation in a closed-door session to send Mr. Guterres’s name to the General Assembly, which is expected to approve Mr. Guterres’s appointment next week.
Guterres, will be the first national leader to take the role as the world’s top diplomat. The 63-year-old former U.N. High Commissioner on Refugees (UNHCR) will lead the U.N. through the maelstrom of regional conflicts, including global rise in terrorism, a painful Syrian war, the international refugee crisis and an ever-growing gulf between Russia and the West.
“HUMILITY TO SERVE THOSE WHO ARE VULNERABLE”
Speaking in Lisbon after the Council’s vote, Guterres accepted the endorsement with “gratitude and humility.”
He said the selection process was an “exemplary process of transparency and openness”, and pledged to show “the humility that is needed to serve especially those that are most vulnerable, victims of conflict, terrorism, human rights violations and poverty.”
During his time as UN High Commissioner for Refugees, António Guterres, was one of the main voices asking for action throughout the crisis. “Europe has a clear responsibility to help those seeking protection from war and persecution”, he stated.
“To deny that responsibility is to threaten the very building blocks of the humanitarian system Europe worked so hard to build. European countries must shoulder their fair share in responding to the refugee crisis, at home and abroad”, he has also said.
“FAITH AND PROTECTION”
Already in 2012, António Guterres talked about the importance of supporting the work of faith-based organisations with refugees, in an UNHCR document called “Faith and Protection” (Download PDF here)
“There was unanimous recognition of the valuable contributions that faith organisations and communities make to the protection of refugees and the displaced”, Guterres wrote.
“WE SHOULD NOT IGNORE RELIGION”
“We must not discriminate among people based on their religious beliefs. To ignore faith would be to ignore its potential for preserving dignity and for finding solutions for the people we care for”, the former UNHCR representative said.
He admitted that “faith groups should be better integrated into conflict prevention and reconciliation strategies. The truth is that where religion is used to undermine the rights of people this normally is not done by religious leaders but by politicians who use religion for their purposes.”
FAITH GROUPS INFLUENCE AND HELP
He stressed the importance of faith leaders and communities, that “with the moral influence they wield and the large networks they enjoy, can make a powerful contribution to creating and maintaining positive attitudes towards foreigners and refugees in their communities.”
The document pointed out that faith leaders “can help prevent conflict and address the root causes of displacement, assist refugees in making informed choices in exile, and play a central role in making solutions sustainable by helping refugees integrate in their new communities.”