Issue 125 - March 2 - U.S. Nominates Anthony Lake for UNICEF Head

New York, March 2, 2010 - With Ann Veneman resigning as the Executive Director of the United Nations Children Fund's (UNICEF) on April 30, 2010, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is responsible for selecting a successor.

On February 17, the United States made a formal nomination. The country's Permanent Representative to the UN, Susan Rice, nominated Anthony Lake with a letter to the Secretary-General as well as to UN Member States.

Since UNICEF's creation in 1947, the United States' nominee has been the one selected by the Secretary-General to lead the Fund, due in part to the country's status as UNICEF's largest donor. However, according to one European government source, this year some European countries reportedly hope to break that pattern.

The UNICEF Executive Director, an Under-Secretary-General-level position, is appointed directly by the UN Secretary-General, "in consultation with the Executive Board" of UNICEF (Founding Resolution, 57 (1) of December 1946). The Board has 36 members, 12 of which are from the Group of Western European and Other States. The remaining 18 seats are divided among the African, Asian, Eastern European, and Latin American and Caribbean regions.

Ban is expected to send a nomination to this Board for its review.

(Read more about Ann Veneman's resignation and the role of Executive Director.)

About Anthony Lake

Lake is currently a Distinguished Professor in Practice of Diplomacy at Georgetown University's School of Foreign Service in Washington, DC.

Various sources, including the Associated Press, provide details of his experience:

  • U.S. Foreign Service Officer (1962-1970) including posts in Vietnam
  • Director of Policy Planning for former U.S. President Jimmy Carter (1977-1981)
  • Assistant for National Security Affairs for former U.S. President Bill Clinton (1993-1997)
  • Foreign policy adviser to Clinton during 1992 presidential campaign, to Senator Barack Obama during 2008 presidential campaign (alongside Susan Rice)
  • U.S. Fund for UNICEF: board member for 9 years, chair of board (2004-2007), permanent honorary member
  • Chair of Board for Marshall Legacy Institute, member of UN Panel of High-Level Personalities on African Development (1998), Director of International Voluntary Services, board member for Save the Children, International Committee of the Red Cross, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Partnership for a Secure America

Nomination Letter

The United States' letter nominating Lake noted that the country's commitment to UNICEF "has never been stronger."

Regarding personal qualities, Ambassador Rice described Lake's "extraordinary experience, strategic vision and energy" and his "deep and longstanding commitment to UNICEF," and she portrayed "a lifetime commitment" to children's welfare.

Rice called Lake "an effective and strong manager" with substantive experience "at the most senior level, "as well as a "skilled diplomat and advocate for peace, who has worked closely with leaders and policymakers from all over the world." Moreover, as chair of the Board of U.S. Fund for UNICEF], Lake "oversaw a significant increase in private funding for the organization."

The U.S. State Department's memo recommending Lake said, further, that:

  • The U.S. gave its "full backing and strongest support" for Lake's candidature;
  • The U.S. was lobbying UN Member States and NGOs "to ensure wide awareness of Tony Lake's strong qualifications for this position;"
  • The deadline for governments to make nominations was February 12; and
  • Ban Ki-moon was expected to make decision in "the coming weeks."

Reactions to Nomination

UN Foundation: Lake has the necessary credentials and understanding of international issues to help resolve some problems facing children. In particular, "his foreign policy expertise and experience working with the US Fund for UNICEF" will allow him to make a valuable contribution. Lake's nomination demonstrates "the importance that the (US) administration places on the urgent need to address children's health issues around the world."

Georgetown Voice: In March 2009, Lake "told the Voice he has been reluctant to reenter government, even while advising the Obama campaign. ‘I told [the Obama campaign] I did not want anything and then I reaffirmed that during the course of the campaign,' Lake said. ‘At a certain age you decide the torch should be passed, and a lot of very competent people could do what I would have been doing.' Lake declined to comment on the nomination."

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