To: Rt Hon Boris Johnson MP, UK Prime Minister
Cc: Rt Hon Dominic Raab MP, Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Affairs
Tuesday 9 March
Dear Prime Minister,
We are writing to urge you to champion a transparent, inclusive and merit-based appointment process for the UN’s Emergency Relief Coordinator (ERC), the head of the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) and the UN’s most senior humanitarian official.
As individuals with experience working on humanitarian issues, we recognise the enormity of the challenge that will face the next post-holder. As the UN Secretary-General described, “2020 has been a year like no other. Conflict, climate change and COVID-19 have created the greatest humanitarian challenge since the Second World War”. This challenge will only become more acute in coming years.
The importance of the ERC’s leadership cannot be overstated. While responsibility for the appointment resides with the UN Secretary-General, influential Member States, including the UK, have significant sway over this decision. Secretaries-General have in the past circumvented due process and requested names directly from leaders of Permanent Members of the Security Council.
Over the past decade 20% of roles at Under-Secretary-General or above have gone to nationals of the Permanent Members – nearly 10 times higher than is proportional. “Ringfencing” roles excludes a large swathe of global talent and creates a perception of partiality, which can undermine the appointee’s authority and compromise the Secretary-General’s independence.
We urge the UK to build on its role championing gender parity and fair power structures based on accountable, transparent institutions, specifically its work to bring transparency, competition and inclusivity to the 2021 selection of the UN Secretary-General. We ask the UK to push to ensure that best practice and recommendations from the UN General Assembly for senior appointments are followed.
With respect to the current vacancy, the UK should encourage the UN to conduct an international search to ensure the strongest possible open field of candidates with a commitment to principled humanitarian action.
As a vocal advocate for transparency and inclusivity, the UK is well placed to make this case. Doing so will strengthen the rules-based international system and help ensure that the next ERC has the authority, experience and skills to execute the most critical leadership role in the international humanitarian system.
Christine Allen, Director, CAFOD
Michael Asquith, Former UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator in Eritrea
Dr Martin Barber OBE, Former Director of the United Nations Mine Action Service
Sir Peter Bottomley MP, Vice Chair, All‐Party Parliamentary Group on the United Nations
Mark Bowden CMG, Former UN Assistant Secretary-General and Deputy Special Representative for Afghanistan
Andreas Bummel, Co-founder and Executive Director of Democracy Without Borders
John Burley, Former Director, UNCTAD
Dr Lisa Cameron MP, Vice Chair, All‐Party Parliamentary Group on the United Nations
Sir Suma Chakrabarti KCB, Chair, ODI
Sarah Champion MP, Chair of the International Development Select Committee
Maureen Connelly, Former Inspector-General, UNHCR
Marissa Conway, Co-Founder, Centre for Feminist Foreign Policy
Sandra Coyle, Consulting Executive Director, World Federalist Movement/Institute for Global Policy
Sam Daws, Former First Officer to UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan
Alan Doss, Former Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General and Head of Mission in Liberia and the Democratic Republic of the Congo
Robert England, Former UN Resident Coordinator in Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Thailand
Andrew Gilmour CMG, Former UN Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights
John Good, Interim CEO, ActionAid UK
Ann Grant, Former Director, Africa & Commonwealth Region at Foreign & Commonwealth Office
Sir Jeremy Greenstock GCMG, Former UK Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Former Chairman of UNA-UK
Lord Hannay of Chiswick GCMG, Former UK Permanent Representative to the United Nations and Co-Chair of the All‐Party Parliamentary Group on the United Nations
Sir Richard Jolly KCMG, Former Deputy Executive Director for Programmes, UNICEF
Terence Jones, Former UN Resident Coordinator in Bhutan, Malawi and Philippines
Matthew Kahane, Former UN Resident Coordinator in Tajikistan and Nepal
Professor Randolph Kent, Former UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator in Somalia, and UN Humanitarian Coordinator in Kosovo and Rwanda
Bishop Declan Lang, Chair of the International Affairs Dept of the Catholic Bishops Conference of England and Wales
Frederick Lyons, Former UN Resident Coordinator in Benin, Mexico and Kenya and Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator in Russia, Iran and Sri Lanka
Rt Hon Lord Mark Malloch-Brown KCMG, Former UN Deputy Secretary-General and Former UK Minister of State for Africa, Asia and the United Nations
Ian Martin, Former Special Representative of the Secretary General and Head of Mission in Timor Leste, Nepal and Libya
Paul Matthews, Former UN Resident Coordinator in Bhutan and Cambodia
Jamie McGoldrick, Former UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator in Palestine and Yemen and Resident Coordinator in Nepal and Georgia
Christopher Metcalf, Former UN Resident Coordinator in Swaziland, Burkina Faso, Madagascar and Algeria
Rt Hon Andrew Mitchell MP, Former Secretary of State for International Development
Nicholas Morris, Former UNHCR Special Envoy and Inspector General
Edward Mortimer CMG, Former Chief Speechwriter and Director of Communications to UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan
Simon Moss, Co-Founder and Managing Director for Campaigns, Global Citizen
Amanda Mukwashi, Chief Executive, Christian Aid
Paul Murphy, Executive Director, Saferworld
Dr Sara Pantuliano, Chief Executive, ODI
Charles Petrie OBE, Former UN Assistant Secretary-General and Secretary General’s Executive Representative for Burundi
Sir Kieran Prendergast KCVO CMG, Former UN Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs
Lord Purvis of Tweed, Liberal Democrat International Development and Trade Spokesman
Madeleine Rees, Secretary-General, Women’s International League of Peace and Freedom
Rt Hon Clare Short, Former Secretary of State for international Development
Alyn Smith MP, SNP Spokesman for State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs
Dr Danny Sriskandarajah, Chief Executive, Oxfam GB
Mandeep Tiwana, Chief Programmes Officer, CIVICUS
Dr Kevin Watkins, Chief Executive, Save the Children UK
David Whaley, Former UN Resident Coordinator in Benin, Algeria, Kenya and South Africa and Deputy Assistant Administrator, UNDP
Andrew Whitley, Former Director, UN Refugee Works Agency
Lord Wood of Anfield, Chair, United Nations Association - UK and Vice-Chair, All‐Party Parliamentary Group on the UN
Sir Nick Young
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