By Jaya Ramachandran
ROME (IDN) – India is pitted against China for the coveted post of the Director-General of the Rome-based FAO, Food and Agriculture Organization, a specialized agency of the United Nations that works in over 130 countries worldwide and leads international efforts to defeat hunger.
Ramesh Chand of the policy commission of the National Institution for Transforming India and Qu Dongyu, Vice-Minister of the Chinese Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs are two of the five candidates for the agency’s top post.
The candidature of Qu Dongyu, approved by the Chinese Communist Party, is part of Beijing’s aggressive new policy of increasing its control of UN institutions and the world body in general, particularly in the wake of the U.S. slashing its contributions to the world body.
At present, China heads the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) with Houlin Zhao as Secretary-General and the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) with LI Yong as Director General. Besides, Liu Zhenmin is the Under-Secretary-General for the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UNDESA).
Election for the post with a four-year term of office starting on August 2019 will take place at the 41st Session of FAO’s Conference in Rome from June 22-29, 2019. The new Director-General will succeed Brazil’s José Graziano da Silva, who was first elected in 2011 and has served two consecutive terms.
The other three candidates vying for the post are: Médi Moungui (Cameroon), Catherine Geslain-Lanéelle (France), and Davit Kirvalidze (Georgia).
According to informed sources, India had sought to persuade China not to field a candidate to avoid the Asian vote being split while many African countries receiving hefty Chinese aid are likely to come under pressure not to vote for Cameroon, which claims to have the backing of all African countries.
France has the backing of the EU for its candidate but initial American support for the French candidate has become lukewarm given the tepid at best relations between Paris and the Trump administration, reports quoting diplomatic sources say.
193 Member States of the UN will cast their vote on a one country-one vote basis in a secret ballot which requires a simple majority for a valid outcome. The next Director-General of FAO will be appointed for the period August 1, 2019 to July 31, 2023. The Director-General will be eligible for only one additional mandate of four years.
Since the establishment of FAO in 1945, there have been eight Directors-General: Sir John Boyd Orr, United Kingdom, 1945-1948; Norris E. Dodd, United States, 1948-1954; Philip Vincent Cardon, United States, 1954-1956; Binay Ranjan Sen, India, 1956-1967; Addeke Hendrik Boerma, Netherlands, 1968-1975; Edouard Saouma, Lebanon, 1976-1993; Jacques Diouf, Senegal, 1994-2011; and José Graziano da Silva, Brazil, 2011-2019. [IDN-InDepthNews – 05 March 2019]
Photo: Election for the agency’s top leadership post with a four-year term of office starting on August 2019 will take place at the 41st Session of FAO’s Conference. Credit: FAO
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