Based on Article 11.2 of the United Nations Industrial Development Organization’s Constitution, the Director-General shall be appointed by the Conference upon recommendation of the Board for a period of four years.
The General Conference, at its 17th session, appointed Mr. LI Yong as Director-General for a second period of four years from 28 November 2017 or until the Director-General to be appointed at the 19th regular session of the General Conference assumes office, whichever is later (decision GC.17/Dec.9).
In accordance with rule 61.2 of the rules of procedure of the Board, “To be eligible for consideration, nominations of candidates must be received by the President of the Board at the latest two months prior to the opening date of the last regular session of the Board before the session of the Conference which is to appoint the Director General.”
Therefore, a note verbale was circulated to Ministries for Foreign Affairs on 10 December 2020. This note verbale set the deadline for the receipt of nominations by the President of the Board as 12 May 2021.
As of 12 May 2021, three candidatures were received. They are Mr. Bernardo Calzadilla Sarmiento (Plurinational State of Bolivia); Mr. Arkebe Oqubay (Ethiopia); and Mr. Gerd Müller (Germany).
Following the receipts of the nominations, a forum was held for the candidates for the post of Director General of the United Nations Industrial Development Organization at the Organization’s headquarters.
The forum provided an opportunity for UNIDO’s Member States to meet and to question the three nominees: Bernardo Calzadilla Sarmiento of the Plurinational State of Bolivia, who is Managing Director of UNIDO’s Directorate of Digitalization, Technology and Agri-Business; Arkebe Oqubay of Ethiopia, who is Senior Minister and Special Adviser to the Prime Minister of Ethiopia; and Gerd Müller of Germany, who is the country’s Federal Minister for Economic Cooperation and Development.
During the five-hour meeting, the nominated candidates presented their respective visions for the Organization. Thereafter, Member States posed questions directly to the candidates, touching on various topics including climate change; the response to the COVID-19 pandemic; industrial strategies and policies, and economic transformation; the Fourth Industrial Revolution and digitalization; gender equality and women’s empowerment; job creation for youth; cooperation with middle-income countries; partnering with the private sector; UNIDO’s global forum function; and the Sustainable Development Goals.
“Today was a key step in the selection process for the post of Director General of UNIDO,” said the Chair of the forum, Ambassador Darmansjah Djumala, Permanent Representative of Indonesia to UNIDO and President of the Industrial Development Board.
“The forum offered an opportunity for the Member States of UNIDO to get better acquainted with the candidates and their respective strategic visions for UNIDO, providing valuable insights to inform their decision on who should head this Organization.”
With the members of the Industrial Development Board of UNIDO scheduled to convene at its 49th session, taking place from 12 to 15 July 2021, to elect and recommend a candidate for appointment as Director-General for a term of four years to the General Conference, which will hold its 19th session from 29 November to 3 December 2021, experts have said that the candidate to be appointed should be one that will focus on industrializing Africa.
Speaking in an interview, a Developmental Economist, Akeem Shittu contend that among the three candidates, Oqubay of Ethiopia is the best suited for the post.
He said while Müller of Germany is seen as a racist based on his recent comment on Africa, Sarmiento of Bolivia on the other hand may have a good technical experience as a UNIDO staff but may not have the requisite political skills and exposure to drive the much needed inclusive and sustainable industrial development, especially within the context of the peculiarities of Africa’s challenging environment.
Muller had mocked the African continent with a racist comment when he said, “When African woman earns $100, she brings to her family $90. When African man earns $100, he brings to his family $30, do you know where he spent the rest? Of course alcohol, drugs, weeds and prostitutes.”
These alleged comments by Muller, analysts say, are not in tandem with the United Nations principles of respect for human dignity and diversity, and therefore puts a big question mark on his ability to deliver the dividends of industrialization globally without bias.
Shittu said for Muller to have made such a disparaging remarks about Africa shows that he has not respect for the continent and as such cannot be trusted to bring any remarkable developmental programme to Africa if he becomes DG.
He said Arkebe has spent more than thirty years at the forefront of implementing inclusive and sustainable industrial development policies and as a champion of transformational economic development in Africa.
He said already, African leaders have emphasized the importance of UNIDO being led by a competent Director-General and voiced their confidence in the world-class caliber of Dr. Oqubay’s candidature including his formidable leadership qualities to ensure equitable and sustainable global industrialization.
Speaking on his agenda for UNIDO, Oqubay said his vision for the Organisation is to lead a collective global effort, adding that this requires a comprehensive development agenda that will bring emerging and developing nations together to promote a version of industrialization that gives priority to environmental sustainability, gender equality and tangible change.
He said, “My vision for UNIDO is to energise and transform the agency into a leading multilateral force for industrial development in developing and emerging countries.
“As we rebuild from the devastation of covid 19 shock, a unique opportunity has been providing for globalisation.
“To achieve this, we need a collective global effort and this requires a comprehensive development agenda bring emerging and developing nations together to promote a version of industrialization that gives priority to environmental sustainability, gender equality and tangible change.
“To realize a sustainable development goals by 2030, we need now more than every revitalized UNIDO that embraces and purse it’s commission.”