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US Holds UNICEF Monopoly for 74 Years in a World Body Where Money Talks — Global Issues

UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta H. Fore meets with college students on the Roberto Suazo Córdoba School, in Tegucigalpa, Honduras. Credit: UNICEF/Bindra
  • by Thalif Deen (united nations)
  • Inter Press Service

The seven U.S. nationals who’ve headed the UN youngsters’s company since its inception in 1947 embrace Maurice Pate, Henry Labouisse, James Grant, Carol Bellamy, Ann Veneman, Anthony Lake and Henrietta Fore. Pate held the job for 18 years, from 1947 to 1965, and Labouisse for 14 years, from 1965 to 1979.

No different company has had a nationwide stranglehold on such a senior place within the 76-year historical past of the United Nations.

As for people monopolizing workplace, Dr Arpad Bogsch, one other US nationwide, held the put up of director normal of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) in Geneva for twenty-four lengthy years (1973-1997).

But extra not too long ago, nevertheless, the skilled life span of senior officers within the UN secretariat is usually 5 years, with a potential extension for an extra 5 years.

Since cash talks, the US has continued to stake its claims for the UNICEF job, primarily as its largest single monetary contributor.

But that declare additionally applies to a number of UN companies, which depend upon voluntary contributions, and the place among the high-ranking positions are largely held by donors or massive powers, principally from Western Europe, or China and Russia.

James Paul, former Executive Director on the New York-based Global Policy Forum (1993-2012) and a outstanding determine within the NGO advocacy neighborhood on the United Nations, instructed IPS a lot is at stake within the appointment of the pinnacle of a significant company within the UN system.

Powerful governments battle over status and the shaping of coverage, he stated, declaring, that “interest is intense now, as the appointment of a new head of UNICEF comes up”.

“Observers inevitably wonder: what country gets the post, what is the region of the appointee, what ethnic or national group does this person represent, what is the person’s gender identify, and finally, last but not least, what is the policy inclination and administrative record of the person selected?” stated Paul, writer of “Of Foxes and Chickens”—Oligarchy and Global Power within the UN Security Council (2017).

He stated some candidates could also be critical individuals with years of expertise whereas others could also be private buddies of a robust head of presidency.

How will the choice course of work and the way a lot stress shall be placed on these with a say over the appointment course of: the UN Secretary General and Executive Boards or committees? he requested.

In the early years of the UN, he stated, there was a bent to nominate male candidates who had been US nationals. The US authorities typically acted very bluntly about getting its approach and it threatened many occasions to withhold funding or punish UN officers if its candidate was not chosen.

Two well-known instances of US hegemony are UNICEF, the UN Children’s Fund, and UNDP, the UN Development Programme.

UNICEF is infamous as a result of its Executive Director has been a US nationwide repeatedly because the group’s founding 74 years in the past, stated Paul. Now that the present head is stepping down, the query inevitably arises – will Washington as soon as once more have the ability to get its approach?

Admittedly, it did make one concession over time. Under stress in 1995 to simply accept a really completed Scandinavian lady, the US agreed to drop its male candidate. Washington then proposed a girl and turned up the warmth.

Carol Bellamy, the US candidate, was ultimately appointed. The current head, Henrietta Fore, can be a girl however she too carries a US passport, stated Paul.

Former UN Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali (1992-1996), who had a love-hate relationship with the US, tried to interrupt the US monopoly again in 1995. But he failed.

In his guide “UN-Vanquished–a US-UN saga,” (1999), Boutros-Ghali says he was thwarted by then US President Bill Clinton and US ambassador Madeline Albright.

Clinton needed William Foege, a former head of the US Centres for Disease Control, to be appointed UNICEF chief to succeed James Grant, additionally an American.

Since Belgium and Finland had already put ahead “outstanding” ladies candidates — and because the US had refused to pay its UN dues and was additionally making ”disparaging” remarks concerning the world physique — “there was no longer automatic acceptance by other nations that the director of UNICEF must inevitably be an American man or woman,” stated Boutros-Ghali.

“The US should select a woman candidate,” Boutros-Ghali instructed Albright, “and then I will see what I can do,” because the appointment concerned session with the then 36-member UNICEF Executive Board. “

Albright rolled her eyes and made a face, repeating what had become her standard expression of frustration with me,” he writes.

When the US saved urgent Foege’s candidature, Boutros-Ghali says that “many countries on the UNICEF Board were angry and (told) me to tell the United States to go to hell.”

The US ultimately submitted an alternate lady candidate: Carol Bellamy, a former director of Peace Corps.

Although Elizabeth Rehn of Finland obtained 15 votes to Bellamy’s 12 in a straw ballot, Boutros-Ghali stated he requested the Board president to persuade the members to attain consensus on Bellamy in order that the US may proceed a monopoly it held since UNICEF was created in 1947.

And thereby hangs a story.

According to the most recent revealed figures, complete contributions to UNICEF in 2020 had been over US$7 billion. The public sector contributed the most important share: US$5.45 billion from authorities, inter-governmental and inter-organizational companions, in addition to Global Programme Partnerships.

The prime three useful resource companions in 2020 (by contributions obtained) had been the Governments of the United States of America (US$801 million), Germany (US$744 million) and the European Union (US$514 million).

As UNICEF’s largest donor, the US was thought of “an indispensable partner”.

“Our partnership with the US Government is broad and diverse, spanning humanitarian and development programmes across key areas of UNICEF’s work, including health; education; early child development; water, sanitation and hygiene; nutrition; child protection; gender equality; HIV and AIDS; immunization; and research programmes,” in response to UNICEF.

Samir Sanbar, a former UN assistant secretary-General and head of the Department of Public Information, instructed IPS the argument over the put up of UNICEF Executive Director was the primary conflict between Boutros-Ghali and Ambassador Albright who in any other case was very pleasant, as each had been “former professors”.

As Boutros-Ghali as soon as quipped: “I may be America’s yes man (as he was described in the Arab press when he was elected secretary-general) but certainly not, yes sir “.

Initially, American UNICEF Executive Directors like Henry Labouisse and James Grant proved their worth not merely by bringing U.S. funds however by their confirmed accomplishments, stated Sanbar.

Guterres, an skilled politician, will most probably discover choices: maybe await proposals from the Biden Administration whereas preserving open potential curiosity by members of the Security Council like Norway–and others, which may supply a substantive contribution, so long as its candidate is a girl, stated Sanbar who had served below 5 totally different secretaries-general throughout his longstanding UN profession.

Paul identified that UNDP supplies an attention-grabbing foundation for comparability. It had a US head (the title is Administrator) for thirty-two years consecutively, from its founding in 1967.

In 1999, when the second for a brand new appointment arose, the UN membership stepped up stress for a extra various pool of candidates.

At final, the magic spell of US dominance broke, as Mark Malloch Brown of the UK acquired the nod. And since 1999, there hasn’t been a single US nationwide in that put up of UNDP Administrator.

That was an indication that Washington’s grip on the UN was slipping and that its international affect was waning – slowly maybe however unmistakably.

A succesful lady from New Zealand, Helen Clark, was one of many new breed, together with a Turk, Kemal Dervis, and a German, Achim Steiner, who at present holds the put up.

But not all US nominees have turned out badly, stated Paul.

James Grant, was a widely-respected head of UNICEF, and Gus Speth received plaudits as head of UNDP. But symbolism is vital in a multi-lateral group with a world-wide membership and a really various constituency.

“No matter how competent the US candidate might be, and no matter how independent-minded, color-coded and engendered, it is time for UNICEF to get a non-US Executive Director. The world of 1947 has long gone. US hegemony is not what it was.”

“A bit of fresh air at UNICEF is long overdue,” declared Paul.

Thalif Deen is the writer of a newly-released guide on the United Nations titled “No Comment -– and Don’t Quote Me on That.” Peppered with scores of anecdotes-– from the intense to the hilarious-– the guide is offered on Amazon worldwide. The hyperlink to Amazon through the writer’s web site follows:

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© Inter Press Service (2021) — All Rights ReservedOriginal source: Inter Press Service



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