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Issue 154 – September 23 – Michelle Bachelet Appointed Head of UN Women

New York, September 23, 2010 - On Tuesday, September 14, Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon announced his highly anticipated appointment of former Chilean President Michelle Bachelet as the head of the newly-created UN Women. UN women, more formally known as the UN Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women, was established earlier this year to consolidate efforts by four separate UN agencies to more effectively deal with women's issues.

For more background on the establishment of UN Women, see UNelections Monitor #152.

Bachelet's appointment as Under-Secretary General has been widely applauded as a victory for international women's issues by UN insiders and civil society groups alike. According to the Gender Equality Architecture Reform (GEAR) campaign, "Michelle Bachelet is a top notch choice and has long been one of GEAR's dream candidates."

Issue 153 - September 13 - Joan Donoghue Joins International Court of Justice

New York, September 13, 2010 - The UN General Assembly and Security Council elected a new member of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) on Thursday, September 9. Joan E. Donoghue of the United States was elected following the resignation of Thomas Buergenthal, also of the United States, whose term was due to expire in 2015.

Judge Donoghue replaces Buergenthal, effective immediately, and will serve the remainder of his term, until February 5, 2011. Donoghue has most recently served as principal deputy legal advisor for the U.S. Department of State. (See curriculum vitae.)

Issue 152 - September 1 - Ban Prepares to Appoint Head of UN Women

New York, September 1, 2010 - On July 2, after almost five years of negotiations, the General Assembly adopted a Resolution officially establishing the United Nations entity for gender equality and the empowerment of women, known as UN Women. The search for the first Under-Secretary-General to lead the new body is almost complete. 

UN Women will carry out the functions of four existing UN agencies dealing with women's issues, and its creation has been part of the larger UN reform process known as System-wide Coherence.

Issue 151 - August 31 - New OCHA Head Changes Start Date to September 6

New York, August 31, 2010 - Two days before the originally announced date of September 1, the UN Secretary-General's office has stated that Valerie Amos will take up her post as Director of the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) on September 6.

The Spokesperson said yesterday, "I believe Ms. [Valerie] Amos is starting in September.  I don't know exactly when, because obviously September is on us in the space of just another day.  I'm sure that we can get you that date. [The Spokesperson later added that the Valerie Amos will start as the Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs on 6 September.]"

Issue 150 - August 27 - Transition in Leadership at UN-Habitat

New York, August 27, 2010 - With Anna Tibaijuka's term at UN-Habitat ending this month, the General Assembly has elected Joan Clos of Spain to succeed her as Executive Director.

Tibaijuka, who is from Tanzania, has led UN-Habitat (formally known as the UN Human Settlements Program) since 2000. UN-Habitat's focus is ensuring shelter for the poor in an environmentally sustainable way. It is based in Nairobi, Kenya.

The Executive Director of UN-Habitat is at the level of Under-Secretary-General. The person must be elected by the General Assembly "upon nomination by the Secretary-General after consultation with Member States," according to GA Resolution 56/206 of December 21, 2001.

Issue 149 - August 19 - OCHA Selection Process Critiqued, Amos to Begin September 1

New York, August 19, 2010 - The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) will have a new Under-Secretary-General and Emergency Relief Coordinator on September 1.

Secretary General Ban Ki-moon appointed Valerie Amos of the United Kingdom on July 9 to replace current Director John Holmes, who will step down at the end of this month. Amos is currently the U.K.'s High Commissioner to Australia.

Ban's selection process has been critiqued by humanitarian groups and others on several grounds, outlined below.

Issue 148 - July 30 - Less than 15% of UN Perm Reps are Women

New York, July 30, 2010 - Out of 192 Permanent Representatives at United Nations Headquarters in New York, 26 are women. The percentage is 13.5%.

This finding is confirmed by records kept by the UN Protocol and Liaison Service.

The region with the highest number (and percentage) of female ambassadors is Latin America and the Caribbean, with eight out of 33 delegations led by women. The region with the lower number (and percentage) of female ambassadors is Africa, with three women and 50 men.

The disparity at the level of Permanent Representative was strikingly clear when the General Assembly elected the president for its 65th Session, Joseph Deiss, on June 11, and each region came forward to welcome him. All five regions were represented by male speakers, the permanent representatives of the country chairing its respective regional group.*

Issue 147 - July 19 - Asian Group Has Two Candidates for Next GA Presidency

New York, July 19, 2010 - In line with the tradition of regional rotation, Asian states have begun nominating candidates for President of the 66th UN General Assembly.

The pattern of regional rotation since 1963 has been:

  • Latin American and Caribbean States
  • African States
  • Western European and Other States (WEOG)
  • Asian States
  • Eastern Europe.

With Joseph Deiss of Switzerland (a member of WEOG) recently elected to lead the GA's 65th Session beginning this September, it is next the turn of the Group of Asian States to put forward a candidate.

Issue 146 - July 19 - Incoming GA President Stresses His Country’s Role, Prepares for “Swiss Presidency”

New York, July 19, 2010 -The United Nations General Assembly recently elected Joseph Deiss of Switzerland as President of its 65th Session. Comments upon his election stressed his nationality, describing his election as "an honor for Switzerland" and recognition of the country's contributions to the UN. The GA president is a politically independent position served by individuals, not by States.

As expected, Deiss was elected on June 11 in a very brief acclamation procedure, due to his being the only candidate put forward by the nominating region, the Group of Western European and Other States (WEOG).

Issue 145 - July 2 - Xue Hanquin Joins International Court of Justice

New York, July 2, 2010 - The UN General Assembly and Security Council elected a new member of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) on Tuesday, June 29. Xue Hanquin of China was elected following the resignation of former judge and Court president Shi Jiuyong on May 28.

Judge Xue replaces him, effective immediately, and will serve the remainder of his term, until February 5, 2011. [This Monitor has been corrected since its original posting, which listed her term ending in February 2010. -ed]

Xue is currently China's ambassador to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and a member of the International Law Commission. (See curriculum vitae.)

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