The Next UN Under-Secretary for Humanitarian Affairs: A P-5 Entitlement?

26 November 2014

The current UN Under-Secretary for Humanitarian Affairs, Valerie Amos, has announced that she will step down from the position in March 2015.  Ms. Amos has held the position for the past four years.

Like many senior appointments in the UN Secretariat, the position is considered to be an entitlement of the permanent five members of the Security Council.  As a result of such informal arrangements, the Secretary-General will typically appoint the candidate chosen by the head of government of one of the P-5 countries. The Under-Secretary for Humanitarian Affairs is expected to go to the UK's candidate of choice.   

Recently, however, controversy has emerged over UK Prime Minister David Cameron's recommendation for the position: Andrew Lansley, a friend and political ally of Mr. Cameron.  

Notably, Lansley does not appear to have any substantial experience in international affairs.  Nor have Lansley's domestic politics been particularly successful; in fact, even Cameron had recently demoted Lansley from his position as Health Secretary in the UK.  

Although it has become practice to suggest three candidates for the Secretary-General's consideration, it is rumored that Prime Minister Cameron has refused to offer any alternatives to Lansley. 

For more information about Lansley's possible appointment, see Lindsey Hilsum's article  at Channel 4 News.