15 SEPTEMBER 2014
With due respect to all those around Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, Bob Orr had the most effective impact in the outside world. While all others
were performing their designated functions at least to the satisfaction of their chief, Bob Orr was always out there, making contacts -- often on
his own -- extending "partnerships" and raising funds for whatever target he felt was
important. Many thought he was expanding beyond his designated functions, but he maintained momentum on his own, even when some of his colleagues
-- and many delegates -- were openly puzzling about his real purpose. He could not have done so without clear support from the top -- the
Secretary General. Also, the U.N. host country, his own country, was not far behind. He must have given helpful advice.
Last year Mr. Ban proposed
upgrading him -- as well as Mr. Kim -- to an Under-Secretary General post. But a bungled approach (some delegates described as arrogant), failed to get
the required outcome. While Mr. Kim (Too-soon) found his way back to the Cabinet through the usual connection, Bob Orr kept flying on by his own
wings. To be sure, he did have his Korean marital connection. That may have helped keep him in after his initial boss Kofi Annan left and Ed Luck
was brought in as the "new American adviser." Yet his expanding role went way beyond that connection.
Apparently, it's now about time to prepare for the future, while still considering the present. An official statement on 27 August indicated
that the Secretary General congratulated Mr. Robert Orr, Assistant Secretary General for Strategic Planning on his appointment as Dean of the School of
Public Policy, University of Maryland, starting October 2014. Of course, the Secretary General expressed deep gratitude for Mr. Orr's service and
leadership over the last 10 years, stressing that he has "portrayed the strategy and architecture for a 21st century United Nations."
Then immediately came the qualifier. Mr. Ban has asked Mr. Orr "to continue to serve the U.N. as Special Adviser on Climate Change, to support
efforts on universal climate agreement in 2015 and global climate action on the ground." If you listen to diplomat corridor talk, climate change is
Bank Ki-moon's main hope of getting a Nobel Peace Prize on the U.N. 70th Anniversary in 2015. Although he may need the services of Norwegian
adviser Terje Roed ("Herring") Larsen for that quest, the role of a well-connected active U.S. adviser will be greatly appreciated.
Thus, while proceeding to Maryland in October, our former colleague Bob Orr will have his crab cake and eat it too. Bon Appetit.