Introduction of UN Secretary-General António Guterres
Professor Daisaku Higashi
It is a great honor to introduce Mr. António Guterres, UN Secretary-General. As a Japanese expert who keeps conducting field research on peace processes in South Sudan, Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq, and East Timor, I have a huge respect for Mr. Guterres who has devoted his career to supporting the most vulnerable people in conflicted states for decades.
For instance, he served as Prime Minister of Portugal from 1995 to 2002, and during that period, he was passionately involved in the international effort to resolve the crisis in East Timor. He also served as UN High Commissioner for Refugees from 2005 to 2015, and led UNHCR in tackling one of the most serious refugee crises in the history of human-kind.
Mr. Guterrres was appointed as the ninth Secretary-General by UN General Assembly on the recommendation of the Security Council in October 2016.
I would like to emphasize that in the selection process of the Secretary-General last year, UN General Assembly hosted a series of informal dialogues in which each of the 13 candidates presented their visions and ideas to all UN member states and responded to questions. It was the first time in the history of the UN to create these opportunities.
And many experts argued that after Mr. Guterres presented his visions and ideas of actions, the overwhelming majority of member states, including the members of the Security Council, decided to support Mr. Guterres. Megan Roberts at the Council of Foreign Relations wrote, “these reforms fundamentally changed the SG selection process, and gave Guterres the chance to emerge as an early frontrunner.”
After Mr. Guterres took office in January this year, he is passionately advancing his agenda to reform UN organizations. He also continues to stress that conflict prevention is not merely a priority but the priority. As Japanese citizens feel threatened by the tension of the North Korean nuclear problem on a daily basis, prevention is the core question of Human Security, for not only people in Japan but also people in South Korea, North Korea, China, and across the globe. Thus, it is again an extreme honor for us to host his special lecture, titled “Global Challenges: The Role of Human Security” in his first visit to Japan as the UN Secretary-General.
So Mr. Secretary-General, welcome to Sophia University!