Issue 143 - June 10 - Recent Developments: GA President Elections Tomorrow, Start Date for ASG Šimonović, Three New SRSGs

New York, June 10, 2010 - A number of developments are taking place on UN elections and appointments. The General Assembly will meet to elect the President of its 65th Session tomorrow (Friday), June 11. The incoming Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights, Ivan Šimonović, will take up the post on July 20. And Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon appointed three special representatives to UN missions in Africa this week.

GA to Elect Next President Tomorrow

The UN General Assembly will meet tomorrow (Friday), June 11, to elect the President of its 65th Session. Joseph Deiss of Switzerland is expected to be elected. Deiss was chosen as the candidate of the Group of Western European and Other States (WEOG) in December 2009.

Election of the GA President does not require a vote to determine that there is a simple majority of support among Member States. When there is only one name presented to the GA for election, the decision is taken by acclamation (an announcement followed by clapping) rather than a vote.

Deiss would succeed Dr. Ali Abdussalam Treki of Libya, elected last year after endorsement by the Group of African States. 

Read more about Joseph Deiss and the selection of the GA President.

Šimonović to Start as ASG Next Month, Defends Record

The Croatian Times reported yesterday that the newly appointed Assistant Secretary-General for human rights, Ivan Šimonović, will take up his new post on July 20. Šimonović will be responsible for leading the New York office of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR).

Secretary-General Ban appointed Šimonović on May 3 by as the highest-level human rights official at UN Headquarters. (Simonovic told Turtle Bay that his selection had been "as mysterious a process to him as to anyone else" and that both he and his government first learned of the appointment by reading about it on the Foreign Policy blog.)

At the time of his appointment, a start date had not been determined. Šimonović currently serves as Croatia's justice minister, and he had expressed the hope to complete judicial preparations for Croatia to enter the European Union before leaving office. Šimonović was expected to discuss the timing with the High Commissioner for Human Rights.

In today's report about his start date of July 20, Šimonović's plans for the remainder of his term were specified as: initiating one out of the three areas of the EU negotiations (the chapter on judiciary) and signing "an agreement with Serbia on mutual extradition of organised crime suspects." He noted that he had accomplished a project for a prison in Zagreb and that the construction of one in central Croatia would be completed by the end of 2010.

Šimonović Defends Human Rights Record

After Šimonović's appointment was criticized, he defended his record to Turtle Bay on May 14, saying "I didn't choose to be Croatian; I was born in Croatia. I didn't choose that my country faced horrible things. I was trying to do good to the best extent that I could and that I knew how."

Other comments:

  • Šimonović acknowledges that Croatia's prosecution of Serbs has been selective, but he says that he has pursued justice for perpetrators, resulting in less bias during his term as justice minister.
  • He describes himself as a "leading advocate for human rights within the Croatian government," having first established a human rights department within the Foreign Ministry's legal division. He said he also has promoted accountability for war crimes.
  • Over the course of various administrations in Croatia, he has been able to "find niches for my activities without leaving aside any of my values."

Read more about the ASG position, Šimonović's background, and critiques of his appointment.

Ban Appoints Representatives to Three UN Missions in Africa

CAR and Chad: Mahmoud Succeeds Angelo

On June 8, the Secretariat announced the appointment of Youssef Mahmoud of Tunisia as Special Representative to the Central African Republic (CAR) and Chad and head of the UN Mission there (MINURCAT).

The SRSG position had been vacant since Victor da Silva Angelo of Portugal stepped down at the end of March 2010. However, Mahmoud had been serving as Acting Special Representative of the Secretary-General since April 1. Mahmoud is also the former Executive Representative of the Secretary-General to and head of the UN Integrated Office in Burundi (BINUB).

MINURCAT's mandate from the Security Council runs from September 2007 until the end of 2010. The end date was decided in a vote by the Security Council in May 2010, following a request by Chad. By July 15, the mission must reduce its military personnel in both countries by one third. By October 15, remaining troops will begin withdrawal, to be completed by December 31.

DRC: Meece Succeeds Doss

The UN announced that the Secretary-General had appointed Roger A. Meece of the United States as his Special Representative to the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and head of the UN mission in DRC (MONUC, which will become MONUSCO following a recent decision of the Security Council to convert the operation into a stabilization mission).

Meese is the U.S.' former ambassador to the DRC and former deputy chief of the UN mission there.

The current SRSG for DRC is Alan Doss of the United Kingdom, who has held the role since January 2008. Doss will step down at the end of June (by which time 2000 military personnel must be withdrawn - a little less than half of the current strength).

Somalia: Mahiga Succeeds Ould-Abdallah

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon also appointed Augustine Mahiga to serve as Special Representative of the Secretary-General (SRSG) to Somalia and head of the UN Political Office for Somalia (UNPOS), it was announced on June 9.

Mahiga is currently the Permanent Representative of Tanzania to the UN.

The current SRSG for Somalia is Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah of Mauritania, who has held the role since September 2007.

UN elections and appointments in the news