31 December 2006 On the eve of taking office as the eighth United Nations Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon today named two key members of his team, selecting a former senior Indian government official as chef de cabinet and an award-winning journalist from Haiti as spokesperson while pledging “continuity along with change.”
Ambassador Vijay Nambiar will take office tomorrow bringing years of experience in diplomacy – both within and outside the UN – to the job. Most recently, he served as Special Adviser to Secretary-General Kofi Annan, who completes his term today.
Michele Montas similarly has experience both at the UN and beyond, having worked as an award-winning journalist in Haiti and, more recently, heading up the world body’s French radio service.
“Today’s appointments will serve as a solid basis for establishing my team and pursuing a program of reform of the Secretariat to provide continuity along with change,” said Mr. Ban in a statement, promising to name more members of his team in the coming days.
Mr. Nambiar undertook a number of sensitive assignments during his tenure with Mr. Annan, including travelling to the Middle East following the war between Israel and Hizbollah.
Before joining Mr. Annan’s team in March, Mr. Nambiar was Deputy National Security Advisor to the Government of India and Head of the National Security Council Secretariat.
He previously served as India’s Permanent Representative to the UN in New York, from May 2002 to June 2004. Earlier as Ambassador of India, he served successively in Pakistan (2000-2001), China (1996-2000), Malaysia (1993-1996), and Afghanistan (1990-1992). He was also Ambassador of India in Algeria from 1985 to 1988.
During the course of his professional career in the Indian Foreign Service, the 63-year old diplomat had served in numerous bilateral and multilateral appointments in Beijing, Belgrade and New York during the 1970s and 1980s.
Mr. Nambiar joined the Indian Foreign Service in 1967 and spent his early years in the diplomatic service specializing in the Chinese language serving in Hong Kong and Beijing. He also served during the mid-1970s in Belgrade, Yugoslavia. In making the announcement, the Secretary-General designate said, “I have known Mr. Nambiar for a long time and we share deep confidence and respect for each other.”
Michele Montas, an-award-winning journalist from Haiti and the current head of the French unit of UN Radio, served as previously as Spokesperson for the General Assembly President in 2003.
At the time, the Assembly was headed by Julian Robert Hunte, the Foreign Minister of St. Lucia, and Ms. Montas was called upon to field press questions on a number of sensitive issues, including a proposed treaty banning on human cloning and the Assembly’s emergency special session on a ruling of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) concerning Israel’s construction of a separation barrier.