Portugal Current Affairs

Portugal’s Antonio Vitorino elected Director General of UN’s International Migration Office

Portugal’s Antonio Manuel de Carvalho Ferreira Vitorino (61) was elected as next Director General (DG) of International Organization for Migration (IOM), an UN Migration Agency. He will succeed incumbent DG William Lacy Swing who will be stepping down after completing the second of two five-year terms. In this election for top most post of IMO (held in secret ballot), Vitorino defeated Costa Rica’s Laura Thompson who came second and US nominee Ken Isaacs who came third.

Antonio Vitorino

Antonio Vitorino had earned degree from University of Lisbon’s School of Law in 1981, as well as Master’s Degree in Legal and Political Science. He was elected to Portugal’s Parliament in 1980. In 1983, he was made Secretary of State for Parliamentary Affairs. He had served as Minister for National Defense and Deputy Prime Minister within government of Antonio Guterres, who is now United Nations’ Secretary General. He also had served as European Commissioner for Justice and Home Affairs from 1999 to 2004. He has been President of the think tank Notre Europe since June 2011.

International Organisation for Migration (IOM)

IOM is UN Migration Agency and is leading intergovernmental organization that provides services and advice concerning migration to governments and migrants, including refugees, internally displaced persons and migrant workers. It is headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland.

It was established in 1951 as Intergovernmental Committee for European Migration (ICEM) to help resettle people displaced by World War II. It was granted Permanent Observer status to UN General Assembly in 1992. Cooperation agreement between IOM and UN was signed in 1996.

IOM works in four broad areas of migration management: Migration and development, Facilitating migration, Regulating migration and Forced migration. It has 166 member states and 8 states holding observer status. It has over 400 offices in more than 150 countries. It has more than 9,500 staff and 450 offices worldwide.

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Antonio Guterres sworn in as UN Secretary General

Former Portuguese Prime Minister Antonio Guterres (67) was sworn in as the 9th UN Secretary-General.

He was administered the Oath of Office by Peter Thomson, President of UN General Assembly at special plenary meeting. He succeeds Ban Ki-moon and shall have five-year term beginning January 1, 2017.

Antonio Guterres was unanimously appointed by the UN General Assembly after the 15-nation UN Security Council had approved him in October 2016.

About Antonio Guterres

  • Antonio Guterres is Portuguese politician and diplomat. He was Prime Minister of Portugal from 1995 to 2002.
  • He had entered politics in 1976 during Portugal’s first democratic election after the “Carnation Revolution” which had ended five decades of dictatorship.
  • He was the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) from June 2005 to December 2015.
  • He led the UNHCR through during one of the world’s worst present refugee crises, including those in Syria, Afghanistan, and Iraq.

About Secretary-General of United Nations

The UN Secretary-General is the head of the United Nations Secretariat. He is de facto spokesperson and leader of the UN. The role Secretary-General has been mentioned in Chapter XV (Articles 97 to 101) of UN Charter. The post lasts for five years and is limited to a maximum of two terms.

Summary

The post of Secretary-General of United Nations is not as powerful, but he serves as the UN’s top diplomat and chief administrative officer. He has to run an unwieldy bureaucracy and manage the competing demands of the world’s big powers. His role is to step in both publicly and privately to prevent escalation of international disputes.

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