15 May 2005

For the first time, the head of the U.N. Development Program comes from a developing recipient country. The post was solely reserved for an American until Mark Malloch-Brown of the United Kingdom took it over on behalf of Europe.

As predicted by the last issue of unforum, Kemal Dervis of Turkey was nominated by the Secretary General to succeed newly appointed Chef de Cabinet Malloch-Brown who obviously had a hand in selecting his former World Bank colleague. This was the first open process where over 100 distinguished high-level candidates competed for one of the most influential posts in the U.N. system.

Mr. Dervis was Turkey's Finance Minister from March 2001 to August 2002, when he was credited with leading his country out of a major economic crisis. He had previously served for 22 years at the World Bank, where he was Vice President for Middle East and North Africa and Vice President for Poverty Reduction and Economic Management, according to UNDP. In the anti-poverty post he was pivotal in developing the Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers (PRSPs) initiative, which calls on governments to involve civil society organizations (CSOs) and development partners in the process of devising national proposals on promoting economic growth.

According to Secretary General Kofi Annan, Mr. Dervis' combination of proven practical and intellectual track records in development and international finance "with a passionate commitment to addressing the scourge of poverty" and his managerial skills would enable him to consolidate UNDP's critical role in addressing global priorities -- from the 2000 Millennium Development Goals, which seek to reduce a host of socio-economic ills, to crisis prevention and recovery, Mr. Annan said.

He added that Mr. Dervis could build on the successful six-year reform effort implemented by current Administrator Mark Malloch Brown, who, in that capacity, also chairs the UN Development Group (UNDG), but was recently appointed Mr. Annan's Chief of Staff.

UNDP is the largest of the independently funded UN agencies and, under its special General Assembly mandate, leads the UN's work on eradicating extreme poverty and promoting good governance in the developing world. Its staff is active in 166 countries.

Mr. Dervis is the author of a book published last month called "For Better Globalization," speaks fluent English, French and German, besides Turkish, and holds a doctorate in economics from Princeton University and Master's and Bachelor's degrees from the London School of Economics (LSE).