15 MAY 2012


Newly-appointed Under-Secretary General for Management, Yokio Takasu, has 40 years of wide experience in multilateral work.

He was Japan's Permanent Representative to the U.N.; member and President of the Security Council; Head of U.N. Affairs at Japan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs; member of the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions; Special Advisor of the Secretary General on Human Security; Ambassador, U.S. Embassy in Washington, D.C.; Permanent Representative to International Organizations in Vienna, including the International Atomic Energy Agency IAEA; United Nations Controller within the U.N. Secretariat; among many other varied efforts.

Take a deep breath and ponder: when U.N. observers and staff are increasingly complaining about political appointments parachuting favourites beholden only to their governments, this appointment is a political plus with added professional credit.

Yukio Takasu is by far one of the most qualified manager to take over that crucial post. For decades, U.N. Administration and Management was regrettably mishandled by politically expedient appointments.

While the Under-Secretary General for Administration with Secretary General Javier Perez de Cuellar, for example, was the solid international civil servant Martti Ahtisaari, who went on to become Finland's President and Nobel Laureate, and then and Patricio Ruedas, the professionally experienced and dedicated international civil servant; Dr. Boutros-Ghali had to deal first with a clueless diva who had to resign swiftly after a "CBS 60 Minutes" interview and was replaced with a very capable Legal Eagle, also proposed by a Republican administration who had to leave for family reasons. A new Democratic team recommended Joseph Connor, a former Price Waterhouse chief executive who was highly regarded by Wall Street and Washington but needed crucial time to grasp U.N. intricacies. It was at that time that Yukio Takasu came in from Japan as Controller, at the Assistant Secretary General level. Dedicated, loyal, and enlightened, he contributed positively to a balanced budget held together by a balanced work program. Where Connor was perceived as ruthlessly harsh on staff, Takasu came across as sensitive. Where Connor seemed keen on appealing mainly to the U.S. Congress (perhaps rightly so to obtain payment of delayed arrears), Takasu's input softly -- yet firmly -- paid attention to a more inclusive overview. Where heads of Secretariat Departments were having their genuine disagreements, Takasu diligently gained a valuable consensus.

Catherine Bertini, who took over, had a very hard time being persistently blocked by Secretary General Annan's Chef de Cabinet Iqbal Riza as payback for her refusal to bend World Food Programme rules to accommodate his son's favoured deal with Demistura. She left in disgust. Christopher Burnham, an ex-Marine and fund-raiser for President George W. Bush, served briefly then left to join a business firm. Alicia Barcena was briefly placed to accommodate higher level changes before moving to a more regular post, more relevant to her professional qualifications. Angela Kane did a very good steady job, particularly with an incoming new team caught between its perceived agenda and facts on the ground.

As the second term for Ban Ki-moon takes its professional shape, the designation of someone with the experience, dedication and efficiency of Ambassador Takasu will be a valuable asset to the Secretary General and to the U.N.