António Guterres

Secretary-General of the United Nations
António Guterres is at the forefront of advocating for refugee rights around the world.

Why you should listen

A former Portuguese prime minister, António Guterres was elected by the UN General Assembly to become the 10th United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in June 2005. In October 2016 the United Nations Security Council announced he would be the next United Nations Secretary General, succeeding the retiring Ban Ki-moon.

As High Commissioner, he heads one of the world's foremost humanitarian organizations. UNHCR has twice won the Nobel Peace Prize. Its more than 9,300 staff members work in 123 countries providing protection and assistance to nearly 55 million refugees, returnees, internally displaced people and stateless persons. Some 88 percent of UNHCR staff work in the field, often in difficult and dangerous duty stations.

Before joining UNHCR, Guterres spent more than 20 years in government and public service. He served as Portuguese prime minister from 1995 to 2002, during which time he was heavily involved in the international effort to resolve the crisis in East Timor. As president of the European Council in early 2000, he led the adoption of the so-called Lisbon Agenda and co-chaired the first European Union-Africa summit. He also founded the Portuguese Refugee Council in 1991 and was part of the Council of State of Portugal from 1991 to 2002.

From 1981 to 1983, Guterres was a member of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, as well as chairman of the Committee on Demography, Migration and Refugees. In addition, he has been active in Socialist International, a worldwide organization of social democratic political parties. He was the group's vice-president from 1992 to 1999 and president from 1999 until mid-2005.

Guterres was born on April 30, 1949, in Lisbon and educated at the Instituto Superior Técnico, where he remains a visiting professor. He is married and has two children.

António Guterres’ TED talk

More news and ideas from António Guterres

In Brief

How small lies turn into big lies, what everyday objects tell us about inequality, and robots that lend a helping hand during disasters

November 4, 2016

Just a few of the intriguing headlines involving members of the TED community this week: The cascading effect of small lies. Tali Sharot is the senior author on a paper published in Nature Neuroscience that sheds light on the possible slippery-slope effect of telling small, self-serving lies. Using an fMRI scanning device to monitor the […]

Continue reading