INDEPENDENT NEWS AND COMMENT ON THE UNITED NATIONS
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23 January 2017 (with later updates): There are six candidates to replace Margaret Chan of China as the Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO):
Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus of Ethipia (51), former Foreign Minister and earlier in his career, Health Minister. He has a PhD in community health but is only candidate who is not a medical doctor. In final 3.
Dr. Flavia Bustreo of Italy (55), is the current WHO Assistant Director-General for family, women’s, and children’s health (on leave during the campaign). She has had earlier stints at UNICEF and the World Bank. Cut from list after interview.
Dr. Philippe Douste-Blazy of France (64) is a former Minister of Health and also of Foreign Affairs. He is the founder of UNITAID, an activist anti-AIDS organization. Cut from list after interview.
Dr. David Nabarro of Britain (67) is a veteran UN system official, much of the time with WHO. He is the current Special Adviser to the UN secretary general on sustainable development and climate change. In final 3.
Dr. Sania Nishtar of Pakistan (53) is a former Minister of Health minister with considerable experience as a member of civil society at the national and international levels. In final 3.
Dr. Miklós Szócska of Hungary (56) is a professor at the Health Services Management Training Center at Budapest's Semmelweis University and a former Minister of Health. Cut before interview.
By the end of this week the field will be winnowed down to three by the 34-member Executive Board of WHO, meeting in Geneva. On Tuesday, 24 January, the Executive Board will vote in secret to decide on a short list of five candidates who will be interviewed -- one hour each -- on Wednesday, also in camera. Based on the interviews the list of candidates will be shortened to three by a secret vote in which each member of the Executive Board will be able to cast only three ballots. The final selection will be made by the General Meeting of WHO's 194-member States in May. The new head of WHO will take office on 1 July.
Speculation is rife about the outcome of the process. The first of the six to bite the dust is widely expected to be the sole Eastern European because his resume is the thinnest. Candidates from the European Union will split available support. The lone African in the race is the united nominee of the 54-member African Union and if his candidacy survives beyond this week, that will be a formidable advantage. Especially so as Africa has never held the top WHO office. However, there are only 8 African States in the Executive Board, and some of them are rumored to be leaning towards the French candidate. The final 3 candidates headed for the election in May are from Britain, Ethiopia and Pakistan. The British candidate is the most qualified; the Ethiopian has the support of the African Union but is not a medical doctor; the Pakistani has passable qualifications and would normally benefit from considerations of gender balance but is from the same region as her predecessor.
June 2016: The UN High Commissioner for Refugees gave out over $400 million to non-governmental partners in 2015 to take care of the surging number of displaced people with little monitoring of how the money was spent. In many cases, it did not even assess its own capacities to deal with situations before giving out the money. Based on those findings, the UN's internal watchdog body, the Office for Internal Oversight Services (OIOS) has given UNHCR an "unsatisfactory" audit rating.
That happened in the wake of a new UNHCR “Policy and Procedures on Procurement by Partners” adopted in 2014, a year when the refugee agency gave out over $500 million to some 900 partners.
The OIOS audit sampled 16 of the 129 countries in which UNHCR has partner programs and found that the agency had not done the cost-benefit analysis required by the new policy to decide if an external partner was necessary. Nor had it assessed the capabilities of the partner organizations in 12 of those countries. In the 4 countries where such assessments were made, they were inadequate and information provided by partner organizations went unverified.
UNHCR has not responded to the criticisms but will surely raise the extenuating circumstance that its capacities were over-stretched by the explosive growth of the refugee population and implementing the new policy had to take a back seat to meeting emergency demands.
A sidelight unmentioned in the report is that the head of UNHCR during the period covered was Antonio Gueterres (now the Secretary-General of the United Nations).