UNITED NATIONS, Oct. 6 (Xinhua) -- The UN Security Council on Thursday formally decided to recommend Antonio Guterres to head the United Nations for the next five years, starting from Jan. 1, 2017.

The 15-nation council has made the decision in a unanimously adopted resolution to recommend Guterres to the General Assembly be appointed as UN secretary-general for a term of office from Jan. 1, 2017 to Dec. 31, 2021, Russian UN Ambassador Vitaly Churkin, who is the council president for October, told reporters here after a closed council meeting.

"Mostly importantly, this sign of unity, which I hope will be translated to the General Assembly, shows that Mr. Guterres, (in) the next five years, can rely on very strong support of the Security Council and of the membership of the United Nations," said Churkin.

Churkin, as the council's president, has presented the resolution to President of General Assembly Peter Thomson for next steps.

Guterres, a 67-year-old diplomat, served as UN High Commissioner for Refugees from June 2005 to December 2015.

Before joining the UN refugee agency, he spent more than 20 years in government and public service. He was the prime minister of Portugal from 1995 to 2002.

Under the UN Charter, the UN Secretary-General shall be appointed by the General Assembly upon the recommendation of the Security Council. In practice, the Security Council, particularly its five permanent members, will make the final choice and send a single candidate to the General Assembly for approval.

The incumbent UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is going to conclude his term at the end of 2016.