Adama Dieng, the registrar of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, has been named the United Nations secretary-general’s special adviser on the prevention of genocide. Dieng, a Senegalese, replaces Francis Deng of Sudan, who has been in the post since 2007 as an under secretary-general and is a nonresident senior fellow at Brookings Institution in Washington, D.C.
Dieng, 62, is a legal expert who has worked for the UN and nongovernmental organizations on genocide prevention and human rights and is on his third term at the Rwanda tribunal. He has also been a UN expert on Haiti, a UN envoy to Malawi and participated in establishing the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights, which is based in Arusha, Tanzania.
The prevention of genocide office was created in 2004 after the Rwanda massacres and the Balkans conflict. It is tasked by the Security Council with gathering information on situations that might lead to genocide and recommending ways to prevent or stop it.
“Mr. Dieng’s experience in holding accountable those responsible for Rwanda’s horrors, and his deep commitment to international justice, leave him well placed to carry out this important mandate on behalf of the Secretary-General,” Simon Adams, the executive director of the Global Center for the Responsibility to Protect at the Ralph Bunche Institute at CUNY, said in a statement.
Jean-Marie Guéhenno, who has been a deputy joint special envoy of the UN and the Arab League since mid-March, working for Kofi Annan on the crisis in Syria, is leaving to become chairman of a French government commission writing a white paper on defense and security, it was announced at a UN press briefing recently. Guéhenno, 62, was chief of the UN Department of Peacekeeping from 2000 to 2008.
Asha-Rose Migiro, 56, of Tanzania, who was the UN’s deputy secretary-general since 2007, is now special envoy for HIV/AIDS in Africa. As deputy secretary-general, she helped promote global work on AIDS, with special attention on women and girls.
Zainab Hawa Bangura, the minister of health and sanitation of Sierra Leone, has been appointed the special representative on sexual violence in conflict. Bangura, 52, has more than 20 years’ experience in governance, conflict resolution and reconciliation in Africa. She has also been instrumental in creating a national health care program and has been an advocate for the elimination of female genital mutilation.
Sierra Leone is one of the few countries in West Africa where the practice of cutting is increasing despite grass-roots efforts to end the ritual, which is now considered a human-rights abuse by many international standards.
Bangura replaces Margot Wallstrom, 57, of Sweden, who was the UN’s first special representative on sexual violence in conflict, starting in 2010, and is credited for putting the topic before the Security Council. She has returned to Sweden.
With a new push on universal education, a Millennium Development Goal that is failing, Gordon Brown, the 61-year-old former British prime minister and a Parliament member, will become UN special envoy for global education, focusing on countries with the lowest school-enrollment figures.
Leila Zerrougui of Algeria is replacing Radhika Coomaraswamy as special representative for children and armed conflict, who took the job in 2006. Zerrougui, born in 1956, has been the deputy head of the UN’s mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo. She led the mission’s efforts in strengthening the rule of law and protecting civilians and will be expected to work closely with Germany, which heads the Security Council working group on children and armed conflict.
Coomaraswamy, a Sri Lankan born in 1953, will be staying in the United States to teach law at New York University. One of her main achievement at the UN job was publishing a “naming and shaming” list of parties who recruit and use child soldiers and the countries where they operate. The mechanism has been the most productive tool yet – if not the only tool – in ending the practice of child soldiers.
“The progress is continuous, but the list of parties to conflict who harm girls and boys will always be too long,” Coomaraswamy said at a press conference this spring.