15 DECEMBER 2014


There were several candidates for the post vacated in August. An officer-in-charge known for a bicycle approach (bowing to those above while pressing those below) was amenably given appropriate time, although he lacked the professional media experience and the public stature. Mr. Kim was happy with him. But at a period when Secretary General Ban Ki-moon is aspiring for an outgoing legacy, he will need an experienced communications leader with wider international links and known qualitative edge.

Among the outside candidates, there were two from Eastern Europe, the socially active Romanian delegate Ms. Simona Miculescu and another from the Czech Republic. A Greek possibility was floated, considering that it was the only country among those who elected Ban Ki-moon in 2006 at the Security Council which did not get a senior designation. Yet, the Greek discreetly considered at the time, Ambassador Vassilakis, had other interests, so no seriously considered name was actually put forward, particularly due to the current situation in that country.

In the final review, the most professionally qualified candidate, Cristina Gallach, won. An added edge was that she is a woman, from a very popular country like Spain that straddles -- through culture, history, and communications -- the whole world from Europe to North/South America to the Arab world. A further advantage is that she knows the U.N. very well as both a media diplomat and reporter and managed an intricate European Communications operation. Her impressive work for years with the legendary Spaniard Javier Solena would offer a perceptive international outlook. She now will face a new challenging -- yet welcome -- experience.

On 4 December, U.N. Secretary-General Bank Ki-moon officially announced the appointment of Cristina Gallach of Spain as Under-Secretary-General for Communications and Public Information. She will succeed Peter Launsky-Tieffenthal of Austria to whom the Secretary-General is grateful for his commitment and dedicated service to the Organization. As an official press communique indicated, Ms. Gallach brings to the position a wealth of experience in communication, information, public diplomacy, international affairs and security policy, combined with transformational leadership and hands-on management expertise. She is also an experienced newspaper, radio and television journalist.

Ms. Gallach is currently Head of the Public Relations Unit in the Council of the European Union, Directorate General for Information and Communication, Brussels, since July 2010. Prior to that appointment, she was Spokesperson of the Spanish Government for the European Union rotating Presidency (2010), Spokesperson and Chief Media Advisor of the European Union High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy, Brussels (1999-2009) and Deputy Spokesperson of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and Chief Media Adviser for the Secretary-General, Brussels (1996-1999). She spent over 15 years as a journalist, during which time she held the positions of Senior Correspondent of the Spanish News Agency, EFE, in Brussels (1993 - 1996) and in Moscow (1990 - 1992), Correspondent with El Periodico, Barcelona (1986 - 1990), United States Correspondent for Avui (1984 - 1986) and Reporter with TVE Barcelona (1983-1984).

Born in 1960 in Barcelona, Ms. Gallach holds a master's degree in international affairs from Columbia University, New York, and a degree in communication and journalism from the Universidad Autonoma, Barcelona.