In the News

Brazil's Graziano elected chief of UN food agency - July 1

July 1, 2011
Jose Graziano da Silva of Brazil was elected on Sunday as director-general of the Food and Agriculture Organization, the U.N. agency tasked with reducing world hunger at a time of near-record high food prices.
Graziano, currently FAO's regional representative for Latin America and the Caribbean, won on the second ballot with the support of 92 of the 180 FAO member states voting. ...

Byun named new chair of U.N. oceanographic commission - June 30

June 30, 2011
A South Korean scientist has been named the new chief of the United Nation’s Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC), Seoul’s Maritime ministry said Thursday.
Byun Sang-kyung, 61, was elected to head the Paris-based organization on Thursday (Paris time), becoming the first South Korean to take the top post of the U.N. commission that coordinates exchange of information and data between the member states and their national oceanographic data centers, according to the Ministry of Land, Transport and Maritime Affairs.

Three Challenges for New IMF Director - June 29

June 29, 2011

Christine Lagarde's appointment to replace Dominique Strauss-Kahn as managing director of the International Monetary Fund comes as no real surprise. But the aggressive manner in which European authorities pushed through Lagarde's appointment to retain control over the position creates at least three major challenges Lagarde must quickly address.

One, Lagarde has to establish her independence. She has to demonstrate that the IMF will not automatically rubberstamp European decisions and be a convenient piggy bank to help Europe finance the debt crisis in some euro-area countries. The pressure European officials applied to secure the managing director's position for Lagarde and the important role she played as the French finance minister in dealing with the crisis raises suspicions that the Europeans' primary interest in backing her is to ensure access to IMF resources.  ...

Should a lawyer be running the IMF? - June 29

June 29, 2011
 The analyses of Christine Lagarde's selection as IMF chief have tended to focus on two principal attributes: nationality and gender. Both are important. But mostly left aside has been her educational and professional background. Unlike her recent predecessors, Lagarde is a lawyer rather than an economist. Dominique Strauss-Kahn had taught economics at the University of Paris. Rodrigo de Rato and Horst Kohler were also Ph.D. economists (though de Rato did also have a law degree). ...

U.S. Endorses France’s Lagarde as New I.M.F. Chief - June 28

June 28, 2011

PARIS — Christine Lagarde was expected to be named Tuesday as the new managing director of the International Monetary Fund, taking on one of the most powerful positions in global finance as a worsening debt crisis in Greece rattles financial markets worldwide.

Christine Lagarde spoke outside the I.M.F. in Washington last Thursday.Readers' CommentsShare your thoughts.Post a Comment »Read All Comments (5) »Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner announced Tuesday that the United States would back Ms. Lagarde, France’s influential finance minister, over the Mexican central bank governor, Agustín Carstens, her only competitor for the job, all but sealing her victory. ...

In show-vote, Qatar assumes GA presidency for 2011 - June 27

June 27, 2011
The Presidency of the UN General Assembly, to which Qatar’s permanent ambassador Nassir Abdulaziz al-Nasser was elected Wednesday, carries little formal power.
The term of office is only one year, and Mr. al-Nasser will not even vote on resolutions before the Assembly during his term. Nonetheless, it is a coveted role, as he will control the Assembly’s agenda, speak on behalf of all 192 member states, and can use the pulpit to express views on international events. ...

UN Food Agency Picks Brazil’s Graziano da Silva as Head to Replace Diouf - June 26

June 26, 2011
The United Nations’ food agency picked Brazil’s Jose Graziano da Silva as its director general, the first new leader in almost two decades as the world faces near-record food prices that are driving millions into poverty.
Graziano da Silva, 61, former Brazilian minister of food security, will take over at the Rome-based Food and Agriculture Organization from Jan. 1 to July 31, 2015, replacing Senegal- born Jacques Diouf after 18 years at the head of the biggest UN agency. Graziano got 92 votes against 88 for Spain’s Miguel Angel Moratinos Cuyaube, the FAO said in an e-mailed statement.

UN Chief: Voice for the Voiceless but Rhetorically Challenged [opinion] - June 22

June 22, 2011

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's re-election process is complete. No candidate emerged to challenge the 67-year old South Korean for another five-year term as the world's top diplomat. The question is whether he is good at his job and most agree he is, despite a low-profile that can work to his disadvantage.

After being approved by the 15-member U.N. Security Council last week, the 192-nation General Assembly on Tuesday, amid a slew of laudatory statements, voted by acclamation to appoint Ban for a second term, beginning in January and ending in December 2016. Members applauded loudly as Assembly President Joseph Deiss brought down his gavel. ...

Has Ban Ki-Moon Lived Up to His Goals? [opinion] - June 22

June 22, 2011
Ban Ki-Moon won a second term as United Nations Secretary General yesterday, affirmed by applause as he was the only candidate. Ban pitched himself as a mediator and bridge-builder, so it's not surprising that he has been a less visible, less controversial and, his critics would say, less charismatic Secretary General than his predecessor, Kofi Annan. But that's a question of style. It takes more than charm to make an organization like the UN effective. Has he succeeded? ...

Did Ban deserve re-election? [opinion] - June 22

June 22, 2011

 In a 2006 article for the International Journal of Peace Operations, I wrote that

During the campaign, Ban was viewed by many as the least visible [of candidates for Secretary General] and offering the least objectionable views in order to not offend any governments. With Ban at the helm, we may see the United Nations return to a more traditional “intergovernmental” role, working to consolidate the “supranational” gains achieved in the last decade.

Ban has lived up to this prediction in his self-described role as “harmonizer” and “bridge-builder” on the challenges that have faced the world community in the past 4½ years. ...

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