By J Nastranis
NEW YORK (IDN) – Antonio Guterres, who takes over as the United Nations Secretary-General on January 1, 2017, delivered on his pledges on gender parity and geographical diversity when he confirmed three key appointments on December 15.
In a statement he confirmed, as widely expected, that he is appointing Amina J. Mohammed of Nigeria as his Deputy Secretary-General. He also announced the appointment of Maria Luiza Ribeiro Viotti of Brazil as his Chef de Cabinet.
“I also intend to create the position of Special Advisor on Policy, and to appoint Ms. Kyung-wha Kang of the Republic of Korea to this new role,” Guterres said.
He added: “I am happy to count on the efforts of these three highly competent women, whom I have chosen for their strong backgrounds in global affairs, development, diplomacy, human rights and humanitarian action.”
He 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 is particularly important as it addresses 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 Deputy Secretary-General Amina J. Mohammed – born in 1961 – is currently 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.
Before joining the UN, she worked for three successive administrations in Nigeria, serving as Special Advisor on the Millennium Development Goals, providing advice on issues including poverty, public sector reform and sustainable development, and coordinating poverty reduction interventions.
Mohammed is also an Adjunct Professor in Development Practice at Columbia University, and serves on numerous international advisory boards and panels, including the UN Secretary-General’s High-level Panel on Post-2015 Development Agenda, the Independent Expert Advisory Group on the Data Revolution for Sustainable Development.
She is also on other advisory board such as those of the Global Development Program of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the UN Secretary-General’s Global Sustainability Panel, the African Women’s Millennium Initiative, Girl Effect and the ActionAid International Right to Education Project.
Guterres Chef de Cabinet is Maria Luiza Ribeiro Viotti. She is presently the Under-Secretary for Asia and the Pacific at the Brazilian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, where she has 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.
Earlier in her career, she was appointed to the Mission of Brazil to the United Nations from 1985 to 1988 and again from 1999 to 2004, and to the Embassy of Brazil in La Paz, Bolivia, from 1993 to 1995.
Born in 1954, Ms. Viotti is married and has one son. She holds a bachelor’s degree in economics (1979) from the University of Brasilia, where she also concluded a post-graduate course in 1981. She also attended the Rio Branco Institute, the Brazilian diplomatic academy.
The third key woman in new UN Chief’s team is Kyung-wha Kang born in 1955. She is currently the Chief of the Secretary-General-designate’s Transition Team. 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.
Kang assisted the Speaker of the National Assembly in parliamentary diplomacy before joining the Foreign Ministry in 1998. Earlier in her career, she worked for the Korean Broadcasting System’s news bureau and international radio bureau, and lectured in universities both in her own country and in the United States.
She graduated from Yonsei University with a Bachelor of Arts in political science and diplomacy. She also has a Master of Arts in mass communication and a PhD in intercultural communication from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, in the United States. [IDN-InDepthNews – 16 December 2016]
Photo: Mohammed-Viotti-Kang | Collage: IDN-INPS
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