New UNICEF head takes office promising today’s children a better tomorrow

Anthony Lake, new Executive Director of the UN Children's Fund

3 May 2010 – Pledging to help the world’s children “inherit a better tomorrow,” Anthony Lake, veteran United States diplomat, national security adviser to former President Bill Clinton and long-time humanitarian advocate, has taken over the helm of the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).

Mr. Lake, 70, assumed the post of UNICEF’s sixth Executive Director on 1 May in succession to Ann Veneman, a former US Secretary of Agriculture, bringing more than 45 years of public and international service to the position.

“I look forward to working with our exceptional staff and our many partners to advance children’s rights around the world,” Mr. Lake said on his first day in office.

“Peace and security are the foundation of a world fit for children. Wars not only kill children – they breed disease and destroy economic hope. And in the end, real peace is not found in a piece of diplomatic paper. It is found in the secure and healthy lives of girls and boys. If we improve their lives today, we help them inherit a better tomorrow.”

When he announced Mr. Lake’s appointment in March, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon praised his “long and distinguished career” with the US Government, but UNICEF’s new head has long-standing ties with the Organization. He served for nine years on the Board of the US Fund for UNICEF, including as Chairman from 2004 to 2007, when the US Fund saw a significant increase in funding and undertook a transition in personnel and mission.

He is also a strong supporter of the UN Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), the targets adopted at the UN Millennium Summit of 2000 that seek to slash a host of social ills by 2015, including extreme hunger and poverty, maternal and infant mortality and lack of access to education and health care.

“At their heart, the Millennium Development goals are about giving the world's most vulnerable children a better chance to reach their full potential – whether it’s improving maternal and child health, increasing gender parity in education, or eradicating hunger,” he said.

“We’ve got a lot of urgent work ahead, leading up to, and beyond, the 2015 MDG targets we’ve set for ourselves. And I believe we can do it – with political commitment, sound strategies, adequate investment and the engagement of a global community.”

Mr. Lake has broad experience of international development and children’s rights through ongoing work with non-governmental organizations (NGOs) spanning four decades. During that time he has led International Voluntary Services, acted as an international advisor to the International Committee of the Red Cross, and been a board member of Save the Children and the Overseas Development Council.

His commitment to peace and security are hallmarks of his career. After leaving government in 1997, he served as the US President's Special Envoy to Haiti as well as Ethiopia and Eritrea. His efforts, for which he received the 2000 White House Samuel Nelson Drew Award, contributed to the Algiers Agreement that ended the war between Ethiopia and Eritrea. He also played a leading role in shaping policies that led to peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina and in Northern Ireland.

A graduate of Harvard College and Princeton University with a PhD from the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Mr. Lake served as Distinguished Professor in the Practice of Diplomacy at Georgetown University in Washington DC immediately prior to his appointment at UNICEF.

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