European countries and the United States have rival candidates for the head of the UN migration agency in an unusually tense contest between allies starting on Monday in Geneva.
The International Organization for Migration (IOM) aims to facilitate humane and orderly migration by intervening in emergencies to assist the vulnerable.
The 175 member states will vote in secret during closed-door meetings starting Monday morning.
The candidates are IOM Deputy Director Amy Pope, a former White House advisor who is personally backed by U.S. President Joe Biden, and her boss António Vitorino from Portugal, who has been leading the organization since 2018.
Pope announced her campaign last year and took unpaid leave from the IOM starting in March to focus on it, tweeting photos of her meetings with officials around the world. She promises to “proactively address the challenges of migration and harness its benefits” and says she will focus on addressing the underlying causes.
Vitorino, a former European Commissioner who is close to United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, cited an increase in the organization’s annual budget as one of his successes.
When asked about the contest, he admitted that it was unprecedented.
“It has never happened before that a sitting Director-General is pitted against one of his deputies. Let’s call it an innovation,” he told journalists. He said he had the support of Portugal and the “strong encouragement” of the European Union.
Diplomats said that both candidates have exerted strong pressure in recent weeks and expect multiple rounds of voting to achieve the two-thirds majority required by the IOM’s constitution. Both have privately expressed confidence in their success.
A diplomat joked that the vote would be kept secret to avoid the wrath of Brussels or Washington.
The voting could last until Tuesday, depending on the number of rounds.
About the author: Jeff Roper
Jeff Roper has been teaching journalism for more than five years. A theorist who nevertheless took up some practice. He is fond of the history of journalism and journalism.