UNITED NATIONS. NOELEEN HEYZER FOR CHEF DE CABINET; SUSANA MALCORRA TO MOVE TO U.N. IN GENEVA

 

15 NOVEMBER 2014

NOELEEN HEYZER FOR CHEF DE CABINET; SUSANA MALCORRA TO MOVE TO U.N. IN GENEVA

An announcement is expected that U.N. Secretary-General's Chef de Cabinet Susana Malcorra will be leaving to head the U.N. European Office in Geneva currently occupied by an Acting retired official. There has been speculation that Ms. Malcorra, who worked in the private field as well as in the U.N. World Food Programme in Rome would be trying to strengthen her European credentials in case she becomes a candidate for the post of U.N, Secretary-General within the next year. That may be a difficult prospect as there are other female and male candidates particularly from Eastern and Western Europe in addition to her own Latin America.

The new appointment will also give the Secretary-General more leeway in designating someone he would work closely with in his concluding and crucial two years of possible legacy. He would by then have had three Chef de Cabinets. The first was Indian diplomat and security expert Vijay Nambiar whom we were told he met while both were on diplomatic assignments, a relationship strengthened by the marriages of Mr. Ban's daughter to an Indian officer close to the Nambiar family. The second was Ms. Malcorra who played a very active role in attempting to run the office but may have had to deal with a number of delicate internal issues including the role of noted "whisperer" Mr. Kim.

The likely successor, Dr. Noeleen Heyzer is a solid Asian from Singapore with a long experience in dealing both with international issues as well as with Asian intricacies. A graduate of Cambridge University in England, Ms. Heyzer was the first woman to be appointed as Executive Secretary the Economic and Social Commission of Asia and the Pacific, ESCAP, for seven years, from August 2007 to 2014. Before that, she was also the first woman to take over an almost-unnoticed fund within the U.N. Secretariat entitled UNIFEM (the United Nations Development Fund for Women), and turning it into an active centre for the empowerment of women, including a successful effort to put in resolution 1325 of the Security Council highlighting the role of women in international peace and security. While in Bangkok, she played a substantive though discreet role in opening bridges to the leaders of Myanmar initially on questions on development and poverty reduction which opened the door for a drastic change in the government and an opening to the international community.

Ms. Hezyer now holds the title of Under-Secretary-General as a Special Advisor for Timor-Leste working to support peacebuilding, state-building and sustainable development. One main advantage to Ms. Heyzer is that she is a longtime staff member who worked in various fields, is known to many and knows several key mechanisms within the U.N. and does not need briefings like her other predecessors nor would she extend her grasp beyond her decisive role. Another positive factor in the coming two years is that she would not be perceived or speculated about as potential candidate for the top post. Additionally, those who knew her over the years admired her substantive hard work and keen dedication especially to the cause of women, but also for being open-minded, engaging and confidently modest.

Ms. Malcorra would need every assistance as she finds her way in Europe and Ms. Heyzer deserves every support for a new and crucial role particularly over the next two years.