General Assembly

16 October 2019

Remarks to Memorial Service for Diogo Freitas Do Amaral

António Guterres

It is with great sadness that I join you in mourning the loss of Professor Diogo Freitas do Amaral.  To his wife and loved ones, I wish to convey my deepest condolences.
Here in this Hall, we remember Professor Freitas do Amaral as the esteemed President of the 50th session of the United Nations General Assembly. 
It is especially poignant that we honour his legacy as the United Nations sets out to mark another milestone, our 75th anniversary. 
During the UN’s 50th year, Professor Freitas do Amaral left a strong imprint as an advocate for a multilateral approach to solving conflicts …  a defender of international law … a supporter of strengthening the United Nations through reform … and a promoter of expanding the voices and representation within our Organization.
I was honoured to serve as Prime Minister of Portugal during his tenure as President of the General Assembly. 
I witnessed how his outstanding leadership at the United Nations enhanced the image of Portugal.
This was a point of great pride for the Portuguese people.  But it came as no surprise.
Because the values and spirit he brought here, were very much rooted in his pivotal contributions to Portuguese democratic life and to my country’s integration in Europe.
Portugal is the vibrant democratic society that we have today because of leaders like Professor Freitas do Amaral.
Following the April Revolution of 1974, he played a major role as a founder and leader of one of the key political parties of the democracy.
As a politician and professor of law, he made a central contribution to the constitutional and legal framework of democratic Portugal.
Professor Freitas do Amaral served in numerous positions in Parliament and Government -- including Deputy to the Assembly of the Portuguese Republic, Minister of Foreign Affairs on two occasions, Minister of National Defense and Deputy Prime Minister.
Renowned Jurist.  Brilliant Scholar.  Skilled politician.  But, above all, he was a public servant of the highest order – devoted to the service of his country and of democracy.
And he was always a professor – eager to share his knowledge and experiences.
So allow me to conclude not with my words, but his. 
In opening the 50th anniversary special session of the United Nations, Professor Freitas do Amaral offered plain spoken advice to what was at the time the largest ever gathering of world leaders.
He said, and I quote:
“Please tell the world that freedom, justice, development and human solidarity are magnificent values worth living and working for. Please tell your people that we must all help each other for the survival and benefit of humanity. Please tell your governments and parliaments that with the necessary reforms and changes, the UN needs money…[and] support from member countries to function well, and wisdom and generosity from us all to save and help those human beings most in need.”
Professor Freitas do Amaral’s words are just as meaningful today as when he said them in this Hall almost 25 years ago. 
As we honour his legacy, let those words continue to be our guide.  Thank you.