Issue 43 - 10 January 2007 - Ban Makes Five Key Appointments in Secretariat

New York, 10 January 2006 – Ban Ki-moon has made five of key appointment decisions for positions within the UN Secretariat. See the table at the end of this update for a summary.

On 1 January, Ban’s first day as the Secretary-General, he appointed Michele Montas, a Haitian journalist, as his Spokesperson and Vijay Nambiar, an Indian diplomat, as his Chief of Staff. For more information on Montas and Nambiar, click here.

Two more appointments followed on 3 January. Montas announced that Ban had decided to appoint Alicia Barcena Ibarra, formerly Kofi Annan’s Chief of Staff, as the Under Secretary-General for Administration and Management. He also appointed John Holmes of the United Kingdom as the Under Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordination, which is the post that heads to UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Assistance (OCHA). On 5 January he appointed Asha-Rose Mtengeti-Migiro, the Foreign Minister of Tanzania, as Deputy Secretary-General.

Appointing Barcena, who is Mexican, to the Management post was a weighty decision because of a 15-year tradition to fill the post with someone from the United States. As a permanent member of the Security Council, the US is one of a handful of countries who traditionally have a monopoly on key posts in the Secretariat. Christopher Burnham was most recent American appointee to the management post. Ban’s choice is also significant because Barcena is a biologist and environmental specialist, rather than a finance expert, which is the usual profile for the position. Her role will include oversight of the budget and other finances, as well as internal ethics issues.

When asked about Barcena’s qualifications for accomplishing Ban’s intentions of far-reaching changes to UN management, Montas did not answer directly, only saying that Ban and Barcena held shared views on the issue. This led one reporter to question if Ban may be setting up an additional post to deal with management reform.

The humanitarian affairs appointment also was questioned but it, by contrast, was reacted to by reporters as “business as usual.” Holmes was the British ambassador to France, and reportedly he lacks clear qualifications for humanitarian operations and emergency coordination, leading to the perception that he was selected at the suggestion of the British government rather than on the basis of merit. The United Kingdom is another permanent member of the Security Council traditionally awarded a top-level position in the Secretariat; this particular office, however, was previously headed by Jan Egeland of Norway.

The decision fulfilled Ban’s intention to appoint “a woman from the third world.” For information on Minister Migiro’s background, click here. She replaces Mark Malloch Brown of the United Kingdom.

Ban will fill the remainder of the top management positions in the next few weeks, Montas said. She indicated that since most contracts expire at the end of February Ban would take advantage of the time between now and then to make his decisions. Remaining high-level appointments include the head of the Department of Peacekeeping – currently led by Jean-Marie Guehenno of France – and the Department of Political Affairs (DPA) – led by Ibrahim Gambari of Nigeria. Media reports say that the U.S. ambassador to Indonesia, Mr. Lynn Bascoe, has been asked to accept the position of Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs, which heads DPA.

Media reports also say that Ban has asked 60 senior officials, the majority of under-secretaries-general and assistant secretaries-general, to resign. It is not yet clear which individuals holding those ranks were not asked to resign.

Ban’s appointments, to date:

Position in Secretariat

Formerly Held By

Ban Has Appointed

Former Position

Chief of Staff

Alicia Barcena Ibarra (Mexico)

Vijay Nambiar (India)

Special Advisor to Kofi Annan; Under-Secretary-General


Stéphane Dujarric (France)

Michele Montas (Haiti)

Head of French unit of UN Radio

Under-Secretary-General for Administration and Management; Head of Department of Management

Christopher Burnham (United States)

Alicia Barcena Ibarra (Mexico)

Chief of Staff for Kofi Annan

Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordination; Head of UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Assistance (OCHA)

Jan Egeland (Norway)

Sir John Holmes (United Kingdom)

Ambassador of UK to France

Deputy Secretary-General

Mark Malloch Brown (United Kingdom)

Asha-Rose Mtengeti-Migiro (Tanzania)

Foreign Minister of Tanzania

The departments of the Secretariat are listed here.

For more information on UN appointments and elections, please visit