Women’s advocate, Qatari ambassador chosen to head UN regional bodies

30 July 2007

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has named a leading women’s rights advocate from Singapore and the former Qatari ambassador to the United States to head up the world body’s regional arms working to advance economic and social development in Asia.

Noeleen Heyzer of Singapore will head the Bangkok-based UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), UN spokesperson Marie Okabe announced today in New York.

Ms. Heyzer has been “the first executive director from the South to head the UN Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM), where she has worked to promote women’s empowerment and gender equality,” she stated.

She will replace Kim Hak-Su of the Republic of Korea, who has held the post of Executive Secretary of ESCAP since 2000.

Mr. Ban also appointed Bader Al-Dafa of Qatar as the Executive Secretary of the UN Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA).

His long and distinguished career includes representing his country in the Russian Federation, France, Egypt and Spain, and most recently in the United States where he also served as Qatar’s observer at the Organization of American States.

Mr. Al-Dafa will begin his Beirut-based appointment in early August, Ms. Okabe stated.