Portuguese parliament awards Guterres 2016 Human Rights Award

Xinhua News Agency

The Portuguese Parliament awarded the United Nation’s next secretary general nominee Antonio Guterres the 2016 Human Rights Award on Wednesday.

The assembly of the Republic decided to attribute the award to Guterres “for the work he developed in defence of human rights, namely in carrying out duties as the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) between 2005 and 2015,” read the statement by the Speaker of the Portuguese Parliament Ferro Rodrigues.

“Antonio Guterres’ performance as high commissioner deserves one of the highest praises. I am very pleased with the decision taken today by the assembly of the republic. Antonio Guterres is the right man, at the right time, at the right place,” Rodrigues added.

The award will be given to Guterres at a ceremony that is to be part of events to mark International Human Rights Day and the date has yet to be announced.

Guterres, a former prime minister, was the UN’s refugee chief from 2005 to 2015, during which time he faced some of most serious displacements in history caused by conflicts in countries like Syria, Iraq, South Sudan, Central African Republic and Yemen.

He became leader of the Socialist Party in 1992 and prime minister in 1995, and dealt with a number of crises in the 1990s, including the East Timor conflict which he was involved in trying to resolve.

Guterres was formally approved by the Security Council Thursday last week as the UN’s nominee for next secretary general who will replace Ban Ki-moon on Jan. 1.