UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova today informed the members of UNESCO’s Executive Board of her choice of senior management team. Ms Bokova, whose mandate began on 15 November last year, said that she had chosen a “strong, competent, coherent and motivated team” to lead UNESCO.
The new Deputy Director-General will be Getachew Engida, who is currently UNESCO’s Comptroller. Mr Engida, of Ethiopia, has had a distinguished international career in auditing and financial management for prominent international companies and also worked for the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) as Assistant Comptroller. He joined UNESCO in his current position in 2004.
UNESCO’s Education Sector will be headed by Qian Tang of China, who is currently its interim Assistant Director-General. A specialist in secondary and technical education, Mr Tang has been an educator and a diplomat as well as a technical and professional education manager at China’s Ministry for Education. He played a central role in the establishment of UNEVOC, UNESCO’s International Centre for Technical and Vocational Education and Training in Bonn, Germany. Mr Tang has also been instrumental in mobilizing donor resources for Education for All and has promoted South/South cooperation in education.
The new Assistant Director-General in charge of the Natural Sciences Sector will be Gretchen Kalonji of the United States of America. Currently Director of International Systemwide Research Development at the University of California’s Office of the President, Ms Kalonji’s international career in materials science and educational transformation has taken her to university positions in France, Japan and China. She has also worked with several African universities and is fluent in Kiswahili and Lingala. Ms Kalonji helped to establish a science and health initiative linking partners in East Africa with the University of California.
UNESCO’s Social and Human Sciences Sector will be headed by Maria del Pilar Alvarez-Laso of Mexico. The new Assistant Director-General is currently Director of Projects at the Latin American Institute for Educational Communication in Mexico City. Her distinguished career includes both social science research positions and media and communications responsibilities, notably as the Editorial Coordinator at the Mexican Television Institute. Ms Alvarez-Laso set up Mexico’s first satellite educational television channel. She has championed human rights in Latin America.
The new Assistant Director-General for Culture will be Francesco Bandarin of Italy. Mr Bandarin is currently Director of UNESCO’s World Heritage Centre, having taken up this position with UNESCO in 2000. As a specialist in architecture and urban planning, Mr Bandarin previously worked in both public and private institutions in the fields of built heritage, cultural heritage conservation, environmental heritage and cultural events, as well as architectural and urban design in developing countries. As Director of the World Heritage Centre, Mr Bandarin has led the development of a vast network of public private partnerships for World Heritage conservation, as well as the development of a series of regional category II centres in every part of the world.
The new Assistant Director-General for UNESCO’s Communication and Information Sector will be Janis Karklins of Latvia. Currently Latvian Ambassador to France and Permanent Delegate to UNESCO, after an initial career in industry, Mr Karklins became the Permanent Representative of his country at the United Nations in Geneva. As a diplomat, he was closely involved in the preparation of the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) and played a key role in its negotiations on internet governance. In 2006, Mr Karklins was elected president of the Government Advisory Committee of ICANN (Internet Corporation of assigned Names and Numbers), which plays a pivotal role in information society issues.
The new Assistant Director-General for the Sector for External Relations and Cooperation will be Eric Falt of France, who is currently Director of the Outreach Division of the United Nations Department of Public Information. Mr Falt’s UN career as a spokesman and head of information services has taken him to many countries in post-conflict situations, including Cambodia, where he was spokesman for the United Nations Transitional Authority and Iraq, where he was in charge of information in the United Nations Office of the Humanitarian Coordinator for Iraq. He has also worked for the United Nations in Haiti, Pakistan and Kenya.
UNESCO’s Administration Sector is to be headed by Khadija Ribes of Tunisia. Currently Director-General in charge of the civil service and administration development in the Office of the Prime Minister of Tunisia, the new Assistant Director-General for Administration has led a series of administrative reform initiatives in her country. Several of these reforms have been undertaken in cooperation with the World Bank and the United Nations Development Programme. Ms Ribes, a specialist in e-governance, has worked to introduce such measures as the introduction of public/private partnerships, the simplification of administrative procedures and manuals, the use of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) in administration and results-based management.
The new Assistant Director-General for UNESCO’s Africa Department will be Lalla Aïcha Ben Barka of Mali, who is currently the Deputy Executive Secretary of the United Nations’ Economic Commission for Africa. Ms Ben Barka was Director of UNESCO’s Regional Bureau for Education in Africa, from 2004-2007. In the course of her career, she has contributed to the development of the education systems of twelve West African countries, including her own, Mali. Ms Ben Barka has also collaborated with a number of foundations that work for African development, including the Mo Ibrahim Foundation and the International Development Research Centre (IDRC, Canada).
The new Assistant Directors-General are expected to take office on 1 July 2010.