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Former Portuguese PM Proposed As Refugee Comm'er

Former Portuguese Prime Minister Proposed As Next UN High Commissioner for Refugees

New York, May 24 2005 4:00PM

United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan today recommended to the General Assembly that former Portuguese Prime Minister Antonio Manuel de Oliveira Guterres become the next UN High Commissioner for Refugees, with a three-year mandate beginning 15 June.

Mr. Guterres, 56, a founding member of the 14-year-old Portuguese Refugee Council, was his country's Prime Minister from 1996 to 2002 and has been an adviser to the Board of Directors of Portugal's second largest bank, Caixa Geral de Depósitos, since 2003.

Since 1999 he has been president of the Socialist International, an association of over 160 Social Democrat, Socialist and Labour parties and major organizations from some 140 countries.

Mr. Guterres was a member of the Portuguese Parliament from 1976 to 1983, also became a member of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe from 1981 to 1983, then went back to the Portuguese Parliament from 1985 to 1995.

For the agency's headquarters in Geneva, Acting High Commissioner Wendy Chamberlin welcomed the announcement Mr. Guterres's nomination as the agency's 10th High Commissioner, succeeding Ruud Lubbers.

"Former Prime Minister Guterres is a highly respected international statesman with a wealth of experience that will be of enormous benefit to the world's 17 million refugees and others of concern," Ms. Chamberlin said. "We look forward to carrying on UNHCR's global work under his able leadership."

UNHCR's 6,000 staff work in 115 countries worldwide, many of them in remote and difficult duty stations. The refugee agency, which has won two Nobel Peace Prizes, was established by the UN General Assembly in 1950 and has helped more than 50 million people over the past five decades.

ENDS

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