May 18 - Issue 12 - Update on Secretariat Appointments

New York, May 18, 2007 - Since our February 9 update, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has selected several special envoys and representatives, and three new under-secretaries-general have taken office.  A number of other key posts remain unfilled to date. As of yesterday, the office of the Secretary-General could provide no estimated timeframe for additional appointments at the upper level or among Secretariat staff.


Senior Posts - New USGs Sworn In


A number of senior officials submitted their resignations in January at the Secretary-General's request. Their remaining time in office was dependent on the date their contract expires, up until June 2007, when all contracts presumably will be terminated. 

Soon after receiving the resignations, Ban appointed several of their replacements.  In March and April, three of Ban's new appointees to head departments in the Secretariat were sworn into their positions as Under-Secretaries-General.

Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs and Head of Department of Political Affairs

  • Lynn Pascoe (United States) is a career civil servant who has held several posts in China and Southeast Asia.  He was the US Ambassador to Indonesia prior to joining the UN Secretariat. 
  • Pascoe replaces Ibrahim Gambari (Nigeria), who has been appointed to serve instead as the Secretary-Generals' Special Adviser on the International Compact with Iraq and Other Political Issues (see "Special Envoys and Representatives" below). 

Under-Secretary-General for Communications and Public Information and Head of the Department of Public Information

  • Kiyotaka Akasaka (Japan) had been serving as the Deputy Secretary-General of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), where he was involved in public information activities.  He has held various positions with the Japanese Foreign Ministry, the Secretariat of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) and the World Health Organization.  
  • Akasaka replaces Shashi Tharoor (India), who was also a candidate for Secretary-General in 2006 and who retired from the UN at the end of his contract in February.

Under-Secretary-General for the General Assembly and Conference Management

  • Muhammad Shaaban (Egypt) had been serving as the National Coordinator for Reform Initiatives in the Middle East and as Personal Assistant to the Foreign Minister of Egypt. 
  • Shaaban replaces Jian Chen (China), who was appointed to the position in August 2001 by Kofi Annan.    

As international civil servants, the appointees must take an oath of loyalty to the UN and to never accept instructions from any government including that of their home country.  They sign a declaration to "exercise in all loyalty, discretion and conscience the functions entrusted to them as international civil servants". In addition to the oath of office, the appointees are accountable to a ten-page "Standards of Conduct", which specifies impartiality, loyalty to the UN over their own government, and avoiding conflicts of interest.

Other posts in the Senior Management Group (SMG) are still in limbo. The below table lists all members of the SMG whose contracts Ban did not renew, and the status of their posts.

Senior Management Contracts Not Renewed

Incumbent's Contract Expired

Replacement Already Named and Has Taken Office

  • Mr. Jian Chen, Under-Secretary-General for General Assembly and Conference Management (Replaced by Muhammad Shaaban)
  • Mr. Ibrahim A. Gambari, Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs (Replaced by Lynn Pascoe)
  • Mr. Shashi Tharoor, Under-Secretary-General for Communications and Public Information (Replaced by Kiyotaka Akasaka)

Replacement Not Yet Named

  • Mr. Nobuaki Tanaka, Under-Secretary-General for Disarmament Affairs
  • Mr. Legwaila Joseph Legwaila, Special Advisor to the Secretary-General on Africa

Incumbent's Contract Not Yet Expired

Replacement Already  Named

  • Mr. Jose Antonio Ocampo, Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs (to be replaced by Sha Zukang)

Replacement Not Yet Named

  • Mr. Anwarul Karim Chowdhury, High Representative for the Least-Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States
  • Ms. Mervat Tallawy, Executive-Secretary, Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA)
  • Mr. Hak-su Kim, Executive-Secretary, Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP)

As the contracts of the incumbents run out Ban will appoint individuals to replace them, rather than appointing several at the same time, said his spokesperson on March 21.  There will be no prior announcement of those appointments.  Senior officials are being given two-year contracts, according to Ban's chef de cabinet, Vijay Nambiar.  For officials asked to stay for a fifth year would receive a one-year contract.

Ban has also said he would like to impose a five-year term limit on high-level appointments.  The limit applies only to the same office and would not inhibit staff from holding several high-level positions. 

Many of the under-secretaries-general that were asked to submit their resignations in January had been serving in those positions for close to or a little over five years.  An exception is Jean-Marie Guéhenno, who has kept his position as Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, a position he has held since 2000.  His contract was not renewed for an entire term but extended by a year, bringing his total to seven years at the post. 

For a complete list of the new appointments to and outgoing members of Ban's Senior Management group, click here


For a short biography of Senior Management Group members, based on information available from the UN, click here

Special Envoys and Representatives for the Secretary-General


Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process and Personal Representative of the Secretary-General to the Palestine Liberation Organization and the Palestinian Authority

  • On May 15, Ban appointed Michael Williams (United Kingdom) to this position.  The Secretary-General will need Security Council approval of his choice for this post.  It is widely expected that he will receive approval.
  • This post is ranked at the Assistant Secretary-General level and is considered the "top" Middle East envoy role. Williams will also serve as Ban's envoy to the "quartet" of Middle East advisers (UN, U.S., European Union, and Russia). His responsibilities are said to include coordinating UN activities related to the Middle East peace process, providing political guidance to the UN system on Middle East issues, and ensuring that the UN "contribution is fully integrated and coordinated." 
  • Williams has been a UN Special Adviser on the Situation in the Middle East and the Director for the Asia and the Pacific Division in the Department of Political Affairs. He was a special adviser to British foreign secretaries between 1999 and 2005, previously served as a senior UN official in peacekeeping missions in Cambodia and the former Yugoslavia, was a correspondent for the BBC, and worked for Amnesty International. 
  • Williams replaces Alvaro de Soto (Peru).

Special Envoys on Climate Change

  • On 1 May, Ban appointed three individuals to this position: former Norwegian Prime Minister Gro Harlem Brundtland, former Chilean President Ricardo Lagos Escobar, and Han Seung-soo, a former General Assembly president.
  • Brundtland chaired the World Commission on Environmental Development, which led to the 1992 U.N. Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro.
  • Han, an economist and former foreign minister of South Korea, was GA president for the 56th session in 2001, when Ban Ki-moon was the Chef de Cabinet. After a series of high-level jobs in the South Korean government he is now president of the Korean Water Forum.
  • Lagos has founded the Foundation for Democracy and Development, which works to create sustainable economic development and growth. As president, however, he had a poor environmental track record, according to 20 Chilean environmental groups which are campaigning against his appointment. They cite his "indifference to the environment" and doing "the opposite" of tackling climate change.
  • The Special Envoys will work with Ban to solicit the views of national leaders and key actors in the climate change negotiations, to facilitate multilateral progress within the UN system to address climate change and environmental damage.

Other recent appointments of special representatives and advisers include:

  • Joint AU-UN Special Representative for Darfur and Head of the Joint AU-UN peacekeeping mission in Darfur - Rodolphe Adada (Republic of Congo), appointed May 8
  • Deputy Special Representative for the Côte d'Ivoire - Georg Charpentier (Finland), appointed March 27
  • Special Adviser on matters relating to the prevention and resolution of conflict - Jan Egeland (Norway), appointed March 14
  • Special Advisor on the International Compact with Iraq and Other Issues - Ibrahim Gambari (Nigeria), appointed March 2, and
  • Special Coordinator for Lebanon (at the level of Under-Secretary-General) - Geir Pedersen (Norway), appointed February 13.

A Special Envoy on United Nations Reform was established by former Secretary-General Kofi Annan to assist with carrying out the reforms outlined in his report, In Larger Freedom.  The five representatives appointed in April 2005 were: Vaira Vike-Freiberga, President of Latvia; Foreign Minister Dermot Ahern of Ireland; Ali Alatas, former Foreign Minister of Indonesia; former president Joaquin Chissano of Mozambique; and former Mexican president Ernesto Zedillo. 

No mention has been made of these envoys' continuing to play a role, and the Spokesperson for the Secretary-General said that Ban has not made any other appointments in other areas of reform.


Compensation for Special Advisers can take at least two forms, depending on the terms negotiated between the Secretary-General and the candidate. If working part-time, their main payment comes from their other employer.  Their payment for their UN work is thus on a "whenever actually employed" basis.  They would receive either a symbolic $1 per year, as with the climate change envoys, or be paid at the scale of an under-secretary-general.  There are no formal criteria to determine the pay; rather it is up to the Secretary-General. 

Potential conflicts of interest between the two employers are the purview of the UN Office of Human Resources Management (OHRM) with advice as necessary from the Office of Legal Affairs.

Posts remaining vacant include the Special Adviser to the Secretary-General on the Prevention of Genocide.  This post was previously held by Mr. Juan Mendez of Argentina.  His contract expired on March 31, and he was not immediately replaced.  After some uncertainty about the fate of the post itself, Ban announced that he intended not only to maintain the office of the SAPG but also to strengthen it as a genocide-prevention mechanism by upgrading the Special Adviser to a full-time position.

Other vacant posts:

  • Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for HIV/AIDS in Africa
  • Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for Myanmar
  • Principal Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General (Afghanistan)
  • Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Operations and Rule of Law (Liberia)
  • Special Adviser to the Secretary-General on Africa (Based in New York)

For the official list of all current Special and Personal Representatives and Envoys of the Secretary-General, click here.

Executive Office Staff

The status of hiring the remaining staff in the Secretariat is "still being finalized" according to the Spokesperson for Ban on May 17, and she could not give an end-date for the process. The two most recent appointments are:

Director for Political Affairs in his Executive Office

  • On May 16 Ban appointed Nicholas Haysom (South Africa) to this position. 
  • The job description for this position is not publicly available, according to a press conference with Ban's spokesperson yesterday.
  • Haysom recently served as head of the Office of Constitutional Support in the UN's Assistance Mission in Iraq. He is the former Legal Advisor to President Mandela is engaged in resolving internal conflicts and constitutional reform in East and Central Africa, and South and South East Asia.
  • Haysom replaces Carlos Lopes (Guinea-Bissau). 

Director of Communications and Speechwriting


  • On May 10 Ban appointed Michael Meyer (United States) to this position. 
  • This position is responsible for overseeing the Secretary-General's strategic communications and speechwriting.
  • Meyer is a journalist currently working as an editor at Newsweek International.  From 1999 to 2001, he worked with the UN Mission in Kosovo on media development projects.

Asked by a reporter to explain the remaining vacancies in the Secretariat, Ban's spokesperson responded that he wanted to "choose wisely." She said that the complete list and organizational chart of staff and senior officials would be provided publicly after the staffing process for the Executive Office has been completed. The documentation will also include a description of each post, she said.

Staff Mobility at the Secretariat

Ban initiated a policy of mandatory staff mobility ("managed mobility") as part of his effort to reform the Secretariat. In this program, many of the Executive Office posts would be opened to those already working within the UN system. For approximately one dozen announced posts, a reported 1,200 candidates applied.

Many of the posts are lower-level.  It is unclear how many of the mobility posts present a chance to move up in the staffing hierarchy and how many are lateral movements to different branches.

There have been no announcements yet on the filling of those posts.  The policy originally was scheduled to begin on 1 May, but this week his spokesperson announced that it was now scheduled to begin later in May.

In the News

UN Appoints H. Menkeiros of Eritrea Assistant Secretary-General - Eritrea Daily, May 17

Briton Appointed as UN Middle East Coordinator - Reuters, May 16 

Chilean Ecologists Reject Lagos UN Appointment - Prensa Latina, May 6

Ban Names Former Boss To Environment Post - New York Sun, May 2


More news on UN elections and appointments