By Arul Louis
United Nations–Secretary General Antonio Guterres has extended the term of Atul Khare, the highest ranking Indian civil servant at the UN, as the Under- Secretary General for Field Support till April 2018.
Khare plays a key role in tamping down the sexual abuse and exploitation scandal in UN peace-keeping operations.
“The Secretary General has decided that the mandate of senior officials working in the Peace and Security pillar should be maintained for another one year,” his spokesperson Farhan Haq said Wednesday.
This also related to Guterres setting up a team to review the working of the UN in order to carry out his promise of reforming the UN.
“This important work will require both expertise and experience from principals and all staff members,” Guterres said while announcing the review.
Khare will also serve on the UN’s Senior Management Group, the high-level body chaired by the Secretary-General that deals with policy and planning matters across the UN.
A medical doctor by training, Khare joined the Indian Foreign Service in 1984 and has since served in several UN positions, many relating to peacekeeping.
Appointed in 2015 by former Secretary-General as the head of the Department of Field Services, Khare has the crucial role of overseeing the agency that provides logistical, administrative and human resources support to the UN peacekeeping and political missions around the world.
Amid the scandal of sexual abuse and exploitation by UN peace-keepers, he emerged as the point person for dealing with it by enforcing a zero tolerance policy.
Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Herve Ladsous, under whose leadership the UN peacekeeping suffered a blow to its image and reputation because of the sex scandals, is leaving the the world body when his term ends in March.
Haq said that Jean-Pierre Lacroix will succeed Ladsous. Both men are French and France has traditionally held the top peacekeeping spot under the UN spoils system for Security Council permanent members.
China, which has dramatically increased its participation in the peace-keeping operations in recent years, had unsuccessfully lobbied for that job, according to diplomatic sources.
It is expected to keep the Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs position now held by Wu Hongbo.
The term of Jeffrey Feltman, the Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs, was also extended till April 2018, Haq said. That slot is held by an American.
With a push for a woman to succeed Ban failing, Guterres promised to increase the number of women at the UN, especially in its top ranks. He has appointed Amina Mohammed of Nigeria to the second highest post of Deputy Secretary General and Maria Luiza Ribeiro Viotti of Brazil as his chef de cabinet or chief of staff.
Vijay Nambiar of India, who was Ban’s Special Adviser on Myanmar and served on the Senior Management Group left the UN when Ban’s term ended in December. Earlier, he was Ban’s chef de cabinet. (IANS)