15 October 2004

It did not happen by design. But key staff handling the General Assembly session are qualified, hard working women who are as down to earth as they are charming.

The new Assistant Secretary General for General Assembly and Conference Affairs Angela Kane had taken over only months ahead of the opening. It was her first session and she plunged into it with her usual confidence. She replaced Miles Stoby. The Director (D-2) of the same Department who, with a tight grip and a cheerful smile, oversees the daily operations is the newly appointed Margaret Kelley, who systematically made her mark during years of proven performance in meeting services and at the Economic and Social Council. She replaced Vadim Perfeliev. Then there is Margi Kam, Senior General Assembly Affairs Officer, who knows the drill blindfolded. No General Debate could be successful without effective Protocol. Again, a capable woman leads a number of other hardworking pleasant and capable women.

By coincidence, these women are drawn from an impressive geographical balance. The gracious and elegant Aminata Djermakoye, Chief of Protocol, hails from one of the most distinguished families in Francophone Africa. Angela Kane is German. Margaret Kelley is Irish American (although the Lebanese world claim her). Ms. Kam is Chinese. Mary-Beth of Protocol is American; Najla is Egyptian. That reflects the real strength of the United Nations Secretariat -- where talented staff are strengthened by their varied backgrounds rather than being separated by their differences. And they are all women. More power to them.