Annan expresses sorrow over death of UN Volunteers chief

Annan expresses sorrow over death of UN Volunteers chief

UNV's Sharon Capeling-Alakija
Secretary-General Kofi Annan expressed sadness today over the death of Sharon Capeling-Alakija, the head of the United Nations Volunteers programme, which supports human development globally by promoting volunteerism and by mobilizing volunteers.

Ms. Capeling-Alakija died yesterday in Bonn, Germany, after a long illness.

She worked for a government volunteer programe of her native Canada in the Caribbean and Africa before directing, first, the UN Development Programme's (UNDP) UN Fund for Women (UNIFEM), then UNDP's Office of Evaluation and Strategic Planning, both in New York. In 1998 she became Executive Coordinator of the UN Volunteers (UNV), based in Bonn.

"Ms. Capeling-Alakija was a deeply committed and creative leader of UNV, which promotes volunteerism, sends some 5,000 UN Volunteers into the field every year and is often described as the 'human face' of the UN's development efforts," a spokesman for Mr. Annan said in a statement.

"In that post - as well as in her previous positions as Director of Evaluation and Strategic Planning in UNDP and Director of the UN Development Fund for Women - she understood the need for the United Nations to reach out as widely as possible and engage people from all walks of life in the Organization's work."

UNDP Administrator Mark Malloch Brown said, "It was during her time with UNV that we all in UNDP became aware of Sharon's extraordinary talents as a visionary and leader.

"She had the vision to appreciate the power of the International Year of Volunteers in 2001 to impact on development challenges, as well as on the volunteer movement around the world, and the leadership to ensure the organization she ran was up to the mark in undertaking its global responsibilities."

The tremendous success of the International Year was, perhaps, one of Ms. Capeling-Alakija's greatest legacies, Mr. Malloch Brown said.