By Santo D. Banerjee
NEW YORK (IDN) - In a fresh move to deliver on his pledges on gender parity and geographical diversity, United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres has announced the appointment of Ursula Mueller of Germany as Assistant Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Deputy Emergency Relief Coordinator in the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).
Mueller is the fourth key woman for four key posts. According to a statement on January 5, she will succeed Kyung-wha Kang of the Republic of Korea, who is currently serving as Chief of the Transition Team in the Executive Office of the Secretary-General. She has served as Assistant Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs since April 2013, and was Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights from January 2007 to March 2013.
Before joining the United Nations, Kang was Director General of International Organizations at the Republic of Korea’s Ministry for Foreign Affairs and Trade. She served in her country’s Permanent Mission to the United Nations from September 2001 to July 2005, during which time she chaired the Commission on the Status of Women.
The announcing of the appointment of Ursula Muller comes within about three weeks since he confirmed three key appointments on December 15 as Secretary-General designate.
In a statement he said, as widely expected, that he is appointing Amina J. Mohammed of Nigeria as his Deputy Secretary-General. At the time of the announcement, Mohammed – born in 1961 – was Nigeria's Environment Minister steering the country’s efforts to protect the natural environment and conserve resources for sustainable development.
Prior to this role, she served as Special Adviser to Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Post-2015 Development Planning, where she was instrumental in bringing about the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, including the Sustainable Development Goals.
Guterres' Chef de Cabinet is Maria Luiza Ribeiro Viotti, who was at the time of announcement Under-Secretary for Asia and the Pacific at the Brazilian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, with special responsibility for work on the BRICS the acronym for an association of five major emerging national economies: Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.
A career diplomat since 1976, Viotti served most recently as Ambassador to Germany from 2013 to 2016 and as Permanent Representative of Brazil to the United Nations from 2007 to 2011.
Prior to those roles, Viotti was posted in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Brasília, where she served as Advisor to the Minister (1990-1993), Head of the South America Division I (1996-99), Director-General for Human Rights and Social Issues (2004-06) and Director-General for International Organizations (2006-07), among other positions.
Guterres described these appointments as "the foundations of my team, which I will continue to build, respecting my pledges on gender parity and geographical diversity".
Guterres' announcement was particularly important as it addressed a general sense of frustration that despite seven highly qualified women candidates in an unprecedented selection process for the choice of Ban Ki-moon's successor as the UN Secretary-General, none had obtained full backing of the UN Security Council.
The new Assistant Secretary-General Mueller has significant humanitarian and field experience. She was Germany’s Humanitarian Coordinator (2006-2009), during which she managed Germany’s multi-million dollar humanitarian budget, oversaw all of Germany’s humanitarian operations and took forward initiatives on landmines and conflict prevention.
During this time she also served on the Advisory Board of the United Nations’s Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) and the Advisory Board to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNWRA). Ms. Mueller was Germany’s Special Envoy to Afghanistan (2001-2002), and was Germany’s Civil Coordinator in Kosovo (2000).
She served as Director General in Germany’s Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development (2012-2014), and as Deputy Director-General of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (2010-2012). She was Germany’s Chargée d’Affaires in Reykjavik (2010) and coordinated a taskforce in the German Ministry of Foreign Affairs to respond to the global Financial Crisis in (2009-2010).
Mueller has over thirty years of experience in international affairs, global issues and development financing. She has been Executive Director of the World Bank’s Group since September 2014, responsible for a range of issues including strategy, policy, budget and the approval of programmes worth $62 billion in 2016. She has consistently worked to foster close cooperation between the World Bank and the United Nations, the statement said.
Mueller graduated from Germany’s Foreign Affairs Institute with a Master of Arts in Public Policy and Public Administration and studied economics the University of Hagen, Germany. [IDN-InDepthNews – 06 January 2017]
Photo: A UN peacekeeper with firearms collected from militias in Côte d'Ivoire. UN Photo/Ky Chung
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