Top Post in UN
Women's Agency Slated for Spain in "Donor-Driven Process," $700 Million
Byline: Matthew Russell Lee of Inner City Press at
the UN: News Analysis
UNITED NATIONS, April 7 -- Moves
afoot to give the top post at the UN women's agency UNIFEM to a Spanish
national because of $700
million in funding which Spain gave
the UN Development Program
last year. The candidate, Ines Alberdi, is said not to have been the
recommendation of the selection panel, but as one insider phrased it to
City Press, "in the UN these days, you have to pay to play."
City Press called the spokesman for the Spanish mission to the UN, Jose
Caballero. He said he was not surprised by the juxtaposition of Ms.
name and the UNIFEM post. "Spain is not well represented at the high
level" of the UN, he said. "We will have more and more representation
because we are under-represented."
City Press asked Mr. Caballero directly about the nexus with the $700
Mr. Cabellero said, "Some years we give a large amount and money and
is nothing, this year..."
the difference is more targeted funding. According to UNIFEM's most
Annual Report, Spain was the largest donor to its Trust Fund, click here to view, at page 21.
To be clear, this conversation with the Spanish
mission was not the confirmation that Ms. Alberdi would be named to the
post. The confirmation came less than two hours after the conversation,
when UNDP rushed out a press release. But
the prospect of Ms. Alberdi being given the top UNIFEM post caused
considerable push-back from non-governmental organizations and
feminists. They point
out that Ms. Alberdi's experience is nearly entirely in Spain, and as
academic. Some say that at a time when Ban Ki-moon is speaking of
the "gender architecture" of the UN system, such a nakedly
donor-driven appointment sends the wrong message.
Ban Ki-moon in Valencia,
Spain in November 2007, Ines Alberdi not shown
On the other side of the
gender-political spectrum, others wonder of the consonance of Ms.
Alberdi's views with not only the Pope, slated to visit the UN this
month, but with other regional groups in the UN General Assembly.
on March 7, a coalition of non-governmental organizations wrote to Ban
the leadership vacuum at UNIFEM, and about UNDP's selection process.
advocacy may have sped up the process, the results has not been what
advocates expected. "If it's all about money," one said, "why is
Spain only getting the head of UNIFEM? They should have gotten an
in fact, Spain is getting more for its $700 million. In November 2007,
Ki-moon traveled to Valencia to "unveil
a plaque at the site of the future
United Nations Peacekeeping Logistics Base." Some called this
and wondered about Italy and the UN Peacekeeping base in Brindisi. But
country has been giving more money to the UN these days? Watch this
Footnote: in the
aftermath of UNDP's 6
p.m. garbage time announcement of capitulation to Spain on the UNIFEM
emerged that NGOs from all over the world had told the UN that their
of choice was the Indian Gita Sen. (Some of these NGOs says that even
European candidates, Ms. Alberdi was less qualified that the director
Amnesty International in Germany.) While rebuffing this
UNDP's Kemal Dervis made another appointment, announced at 6:18 pm., of
Ajay Chhibber from India to replace Hafiz
Pasha as UNDP's head for Asia. And UNDP preaches, or pretends to
meritocracy and transparency...
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