United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres recently appointed Alison Smale, a correspondent and editor at The New York Times based in Berlin, Under-Secretary-General for Communications. As Under-Secretary-General, Smale will be responsible for “creating and implementing the United Nations’ global communications strategy to ensure the work of the organization is responsibly, meaningfully, and powerfully communicated to global audiences in multiple languages.”
According to a press release from the United Nations, Smale is succeeding Cristina Gallach. The release states, “the Secretary-General is grateful for [Gallach’s] commitment and dedicated service to the Organization. The Secretary-General also wishes to extend his appreciation to Maher Nasser, who served as Acting Under-Secretary-General for Global Communications.”
Smale, a 62-year-old with over 40 years of experience reporting on major international stories, certainly has the experience and background to succeed in her new position. U.N. Spokesman Stephane Durjarric even stated, “she has a proven track record as reporter, editor and senior leader.”
In 2008, Smale became the first and only woman who has been appointed Executive Editor of the International Herald Tribune (IHT) in Paris. The U.N. press release went into more detail about Smale’s experience in the communications world, saying, “Ms. Smale joined the IHT in 2004 as Managing Editor from The New York Times, where she had been Deputy Foreign Editor since 2002, having joined in 1998 as Weekend Foreign Editor. Earlier in her career she reported for United Press International and The Associated Press as Bureau Chief for Central and Eastern Europe, Vienna (1986-1998) and Correspondent, Moscow and Bonn (1983-1986, 1978-1983).”
Recently, U.N. Secretary-General Guterres has been under quite a lot of pressure to bring more women into the U.N. A New York Times article, titled “Politics Trumps Gender in the Selection of a U.N. Leader,” explores this issue, and it mentions that out of the 15 nations on the Security Council, only six percent of the representatives were women.
Guterres stated that he would make women a priority in his acceptance speech, saying, “the protection and the empowerment of women and girls will continue to be a priority commitment.” Since then, he has also promised that he will be choosing three women to join his five-member transition team.
Guterres has stayed true to his word, and the U.N. announced Smale as the new under-secretary-general. Smale does seem to be an out-of-the-box choice for under-secretary-general, considering the fact that her predecessors mostly had backgrounds in the government.
The New York Times even stated, “one of Ms. Smale’s major challenges will be to explain to the world why the United Nations matters, at a time when its effectiveness, and even its relevance, are under increased scrutiny.”
It will be interesting to see what Smale will do with her new position, and how she will take on the gender issues that seem to be plaguing the U.N. Smale has an unlimited number of opportunities considering the fact that she will head “The United Nations’ Department of Public Information who has a nearly $200 million budget for the two-year period of 2016-2017.”
We expect great things from this journalist.
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