Acting on his pledge to achieve continuity with change, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who took office on 1 January, today named four new senior officials to his cabinet while retaining a dozen others.
Mr. Ban named a United States diplomat as chief political officer, a Chinese veteran of international organizations to head economic and social affairs, a Japanese international civil servant to manage public information and an Egyptian diplomat to oversee General Assembly management.
“In making these decisions, the Secretary-General has taken into account various factors, among others the need to apply change with continuity, ongoing discussions on restructuring plans and the need to promote mobility at all levels,” the Secretary-General’s Chef de Cabinet, Vijay Nambiar, told a press briefing in New York.
Responding to questions on the selections, Mr. Nambiar said the Secretary-General “is conscious that he needs to take advantage and in a sense leverage the experience that is there; he is also conscious of the need to build new talent and experience.”
Shortly after assuming office on 1 January, Mr. Ban asked nearly all assistant and under-secretaries-general to tender their resignations to allow him “the flexibility he needs in forming his new team.”
B. Lynn Pascoe, currently US Ambassador to Indonesia, was appointed Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs, succeeding Ibrahim Gambari, a Nigerian. He has previously served as US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs and US Special Negotiator for Nagorno-Karabakh and Regional Conflicts.
He was US Co-Chair of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe’s (OSCE) Minsk Group seeking negotiated resolution to the conflict between Azerbaijan and Armenia over Nagorno-Karabakh. He has also served as Director of the American Institute in Taiwan, Province of China, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary in the East Asian and Pacific Bureau of the State Department, and Deputy US Chief of Mission in Beijing.
In over three decades of his diplomatic career, he has held positions on the Soviet and China desks, and has been posted to Moscow, Hong Kong, Kuala Lumpur and Bangkok, as well as to Beijing twice, Taipei and Kuala Lumpur. He speaks mandarin Chinese.
Ambassador Sha Zukang, currently China’s Permanent Representative to the UN Office at Geneva, was named Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs in succession to José Antonio Ocampo of Colombia. Mr. Sha, who has wide experience on disarmament issues, is also well-versed in economic and social development.
Over his 37 years of a diplomatic career, his portfolios covered a wide range of fields including security, economy, social affairs, human rights and humanitarian affairs. In recent years, he served respectively as the Chairperson of the Government Group of the Governing Body of the UN International Labour Organization (ILO), President of the UN Trade and Development Board, Chairman of the Preparatory Committee and the Committee of the Whole of UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD).
He was also elected or appointed as president, vice-president, chairman, coordinator and expert in many international conferences in the field of trade, intellectual property, social affairs and telecommunications.
Kiyotaka Akasaka of Japan, currently Deputy Secretary-General of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), becomes Under-Secretary-General for Communications and Public Information, succeeding Shashi Tharoor of India. He has been closely involved throughout his career with the work of multilateral organizations.
Mr. Akasaka was Deputy Director-General in the Japanese Foreign Ministry’s Multilateral Cooperation Department from 1997 to 2000, participating as one of his country’s top negotiators in the Kyoto Conference on Climate Change and various other international conferences. Between 2000 and 2001 he was Japan’s UN Ambassador.
He has also held posts at the Secretariat of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT), precursor of the UN World Trade Organisation (WTO), and at the UN World Health Organization (WHO). He has held a number of positions in the field of communications and public relations, serving in the Japanese Foreign Ministry as Deputy Director of the Press Division and spokesman on climate change. He has also been deeply involved in OECD public information activities.
Muhammad Shaaban of Egypt, currently National Coordinator for Reform Initiatives in the Middle East, was named Under-Secretary-General for General Assembly and Conference Management, succeeding Jian Chen of China.
No stranger to the UN and multilateral diplomacy, Mr. Shaaban has served as Assistant Foreign Minister for European Affairs and was National Coordinator for the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership, the Mediterranean Forum and the OSCE. He also served as Assistant Minister for Information, Research and Assessment and National Coordinator for Information, Research and Assessment.
Between 1984 and 1988, he was Egypt’s representative to the UN Second Committee dealing with economic and financial affairs, the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) and the UN Development Programme (UNDP).
Among those who Mr. Ban retained from the former administration of Secretary-General Kofi Annan were Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Jean-Marie Guéhenno, Under-Secretary-General for Legal Affairs Nicolas Michel, Under-Secretary-General for Safety and Security David Veness and Under-Secretary-General at the UN Office for Internal Oversight Services (OIOS) Inga-Britt Ahlenius.