Dr. Asha-Rose Migiro, Deputy UNSG

Dr. Asha-Rose Mtengeti MigiroSecretary General Ban today named the foreign minister of Tanzania, Dr. Asha-Rose Mtengeti Migiro, as his Deputy Secretary General.

The announcement could be said to reflect the media’s nickname for Ban – “the slippery eel” – in that Dr. Migiro’s name escaped being included in any list of speculated candidates. Spokesperson Michèle Montas noted that the decision had only been made this week after additional consultations. As of only two weeks ago, there had not been “any inkling that she would be named Deputy Secretary General.” Montas also noted that Ban’s short list had not, contrary to most speculation, been limited to women.

Dr. Migiro is expected to arrive in New York in the next 10 days to take up her duties.

Update, Jan 14: Dr. Migiro will arrive in New York on January 15th, but as Deputy Secretary General-designate, accordinng to Friday’s UN Noon Briefing. She will not be taking up her formal duties until early February. 

Ban had not met with her since taking up office himself or making his decision earlier this week. In his statement today, Ban noted that

Through her distinguished service in diverse areas, [Dr. Migiro] has displayed outstanding management skills with wide experience and expertise in socio-economic affairs and development issues.

I have deep confidence in and respect for her, and intend to delegate much of the management and administrative work of the Secretariat, as well as socio-economic affairs and development issues, under a clear line of authority to ensure that the Secretariat will function in a more effective and efficient manner.

At today’s noon briefing, Montas faced some tough questions from the UN press corps about Dr. Migiro’s qualifications. As Dr. Migiro has only been foreign minister of Tanzania since January of last year, James Bone asked whether Ban had met with her during his campaign/trade visit to Tanzania. Montas did not know, but assumed he did work with her on that visit.

Richard Roth questioned Dr. Migiro’s appointment in terms of the management experience necessary to undetake the the enormous management reforms expected this year and Ban’s intention to delegate to the D-UNSG most of the day-to-day management of the Secretariat.

…the organization faces massive problems – staff morale being down, the capital master plan, the building being renovated, questions about corruption, the procurement office…why is someone who spent years as the Minister of Community Development, Gender and Children’s Affairs remotely the best candidate for this?

Montas responded that,

Well, you should probably give her a chance to show it… It was the Secretary General’s opinion that she is a highly qualified person, and among the people he was choosing from, she is the best qualified.

Unsatisfied, Roth continued by asking “how is that possible” for Ban to appoint her without meeting with her recently, and whether he was “sounding her out while he was campaigning?” Montas responded, in a not altogether pleasant tone, that Ban

“has deep respect for Dr. Migiro, has been in contact with her for a long time, and he knows her. The fact that they have not met since the decision was taken…” 

Montas did note that Ban had spoken with Dr. Migiro by phone this week.

Other questions included whether her role as Chair of the Great Lakes was not more of a diplomatic post without managerial responsibilities, why Ban did not make an appointment in time for his assuming office, and why Ban did not wait until Dr. Migiro was present to answer such questions on her qualifications. Montas responded that the decision to annouce was made partly in response to reporters’ insistence. She assured the press corps that Dr. Migiro “is very willing to come talk to you” when she arrived.

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