Sunday, April 26, 2009

On the Election of the Director General

When she addressed the UNESCO Executive Board in March of 2008, Ambassador Oliver mentioned this year's election of a new Director General for UNESCO, including the following:
I’d like to end my remarks by mentioning the most important issue facing UNESCO and the U.S. in the immediate future, which is of course the election of a new Director-General at the General Conference in October 2009. This will be the first time in 27 years that the U.S. will be engaged in the election process.

The selection of a new Director-General is critical for the organization, not only because that individual gets to choose his or her cabinet and the senior staff, but also because approximately one-third of UNESCO’s staff will reach the mandatory retirement age in the next five years. Moreover, since the U.S. has no veto at UNESCO, it is of the utmost importance for us that a new Director-General who is supportive of active U.S. engagement at that organization be selected.

The Chairman of the Executive Board is supposed to send a letter to all the delegations in June outlining the D-G selection process that took place last time. The process will be discussed at the October Executive Board, after which the Executive Board will send out a formal letter inviting individuals to apply for the position.

What makes this election process a bit awkward is that several candidates have already been actively campaigning for months. It is also unfortunate that although the U.S. really needs to play a major role in this process, both the State Department and the Mission will be facing significant changes in personnel and leadership. We must make sure that despite the transition to a new Administration, the U.S. voice at UNESCO remains strong during this crucial time.
UNElections.Org in March published a long and useful article on the election of the new Director General.

No comments: