14 March 2008

Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Biographical Note




United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has appointed Johnston Barkat of the United States as the new United Nations Ombudsman, at the level of Assistant Secretary-General. †As Ombudsman, he will function independently of any United Nations organ or official, with direct access to the Secretary-General as needed.

A strengthened Ombudsmanís Office is one of the key elements of the new system of administration of justice at the United Nations, which was approved by the General Assembly last year.

Mr. Barkat will head a single, integrated and decentralized Ombudsmanís Office that will serve both the Secretariat and funds and programmes.† It will include regional branches in several other United Nations duty stations and a new Mediation Division. †As Ombudsman, Mr. Barkat and his team will facilitate informal resolution of conflict and mediation for issues involving United Nations staff around the world. †In addition to those responsibilities, the new Ombudsman will help to identify systemic problems and propose recommendations to improve policies and procedures to help the United Nations meet its goals more efficiently and effectively.

In selecting the new Ombudsman, the Secretary-General decided to draw upon the process that had been recommended by the Redesign Panel on the Administration of Justice at the United Nations.† As a result, the selection committee included a representative of the staff and two external experts, one chosen by the staff.† This procedure was subsequently endorsed by the General Assembly in December 2007.

An expert in conflict resolution, Mr. Barkat has served as an Ombudsman at Pace University and as an instructor of conflict resolution and mediation at the International Center for Cooperation and Conflict Resolution at Columbia University. †He has worked as a mediator using alternative dispute resolution in New York State courts and has served on the board of the Westchester Mediation Center. †He has served as chair of the Ombudsman committees for both the American Bar Association and the Association for Conflict Resolution.

He is past president of the International Ombudsman Association and subsequently has served as chair of its International Committee.† Mr. Barkat was also an instructor of business management for Nyack College and the Lubin Graduate School of Business.† He is a senior fellow with the Institute for Collaborative Engagement, and a fellow of the American Bar Foundation.† Mr. Barkat has also worked with the United Nations as a negotiations instructor, as a consultant on ombudsman programmes, and adviser on reforms to the Administration of Justice.

He holds a Doctor of Philosophy from Columbia University, where his research explored strategies to create negotiation ripeness in seemingly intractable conflicts, an Master of Public Administration in government from Pace University, and a Bachelor of Arts in psychology from The Kingís College.

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