Issue 118 - December 11 - Former Vice-President of Costa Rica, Rebeca Grynspan, Appointed Associate Administrator of UNDP

New York, December 11, 2009 - UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has appointed Rebeca Grynspan of Costa Rica as Under-Secretary-General and Associate Administrator of the UN Development Program (UNDP).

Grynspan is Costa Rica's former Vice-President.

She succeeds Ad Melkert, who was appointed as the Secretary-General's Special Representative to Iraq in July 2009. The position of Associate Administrator has been vacant for the past several months.

Role of Associate Administrator

As Under-Secretary-General and Associate Administrator, Grynspan will work with Administrator Helen Clark to oversee UNDP programs and provide leadership for the organization. Grynspan will be "tasked with providing countries with the knowledge, experience and resources that aid economic growth," according to the Secretary-General's announcement this week.

UNDP seeks to help developing countries build democratic governance, assists in conflict prevention and recovery, aids in poverty and HIV/AIDS reduction, and works to establish new energy sources, while protecting the environment and promoting human rights and the empowerment of women.

About Rebeca Grynspan

Born in 1955, Grynspan received her Masters degree in economics from the University of Sussex in the United Kingdom.  

After eight years of ministerial posts in the Costa Rican Government, Grynspan served as Vice-President from 1994 to 1998. 

Grynspan then worked at the UN Secretariat in Mexico as the Director of the Sub-regional Headquarters of the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), from 2001 to 2006. Most recently, Grynspan has served as UNDP's Regional Director in the agency's Latin America and the Caribbean office, since March 2006.

(See UN's biographical note on Grynspan.)

Appointment Process

For the interviewing and evaluation of candidates, a panel was established; however, the members of the panel were not announced.

Ban's spokesperson said on November 24, "we do not comment on members of panels to interview candidates."

But, she indicated that in general, interview panels include representatives of the UN's Office of Human Resources and the department relevant to the post, in this case UNDP. The final selection must be approved both by the Secretary-General and the UNDP Administrator, Helen Clark.

It is common that when the head of a UN body is from a donor state, the deputy leader will be selected from a developing country, and vice-versa. According to media reports, members of the Group of African States at the UN believe that the position of Associate Administrator should be filled by an African candidate, and that such an appointment was promised to the region after Helen Clark of New Zealand was selected as Administrator.

Whether African States could wield any influence over the appointment via a decision by the General Assembly is unclear. The spokesperson for the GA President said on December 8, "On the appointment of the UNDP Administrator, I can confirm that the General Assembly's role comes into play. However, on the question of the Associate Administrator that is certainly less certain."


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