"The Assembly of the Republic today decided to award the 2016 Human Rights Prize, created by a resolution on 10 December of 1998, to António Guterres, for his work in defence of human rights, namely in fulfilling his functions as United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) between 2005 and 2015," the speaker, Eduardo Ferro Rodrigues, said in a statement.

The decision was made unanimously by a jury made up of members of parliament's committee for constitutional affairs, rights, freedoms and guarantees: Pedro Bacelar de Vasconcelos of the governing Socialist Party (PS), which Guterres once led as prime minister of Portugal, José Matos Correia of the Social Democratic Party (PSD), Filipe Neto Brandão (PS), Sandra Cunha (Left Bloc), Telmo Correia (People's Party), António Filipe (Communist Party) e José Luís Ferreira (Greens).

"António Guterres's performance as UNHCR deserves the most eloquent praise," Rodrigues said. "So I am pleased at the decision taken today by the Assembly of the Republic.

"António Guterres is the right man at the right time in the right place," he added, in a reference to the former prime minister's imminent appointment as secretary-general.

The prize is to be handed over at a ceremony that is to be part of events to mark International Human Rights Day, on a date that has yet to be announced.