The Appointments

Most UN observers are waiting with baited breath as the new Secretary General forms his executive team. This is a delicate process. In choosing his staff, Ban Ki-moon must pay due regard to equitable geographic and gender distribution. He is also, no doubt, under intense pressure from various member states to appoint one of their own nationals to top posts. So far, Ban’s inner circle is beginning to take shape. Ban has appointed an award winning Haitian journalist as his spokesperson; a British diplomat as Under-Secretary General for Humanitarian Affairs; a Mexican member of Annan’s administration to lead management reform efforts; and a veteran Indian diplomat as his Chief of Staff. Ban’s spokeswoman has also said that he would appoint an unspecified “woman from the developing world” for the number two spot of Deputy Secretary General.

Among the five permanent members of the Security Council, the Americans, British, and French have historically pressed hardest to have their nationals represented in top posts. And two of the most prized posts, the chief of the Department of Political Affairs (the UN’s equivalent of a State Department) and the Undersecretary General for Peacekeeping Operations, have yet to be named. With a Britain already appointed as the UN humanitarian chief, this raises speculation that the Americans are one of the leading contenders to fill the peacekeeping post.

This would be somewhat unheard of within the walls of the General Secretariat. No doubt, these next few weeks will be interesting as the offices on the 38th floor take shape.