President Obama announced two new additions to the U.S. Mission to the UN yesterday. He will nominate:
- Frederick “Rick” Barton to be the U.S. Ambassador to the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations (ECOSOC)
- Jide Zeitlin to be U.S. Ambassador on UN Management and Reform
Barton is an excellent choice. He’s well-versed in both the UN system and U.S. foriegn aid, is a creative thinker, and, I’ve heard, has the right demeanor to succeed in dealing with other delegates. He served as the UN Deputy High Commissioner for Refugees in Geneva from 1999 to 2001, and he worked on Obama’s transition team on foreign aid issues. The UN Peacebuilding Commission falls under his purview, which is a great fit, as he’s currently the Co-Director of the Post Conflict Reconstruction Project at CSIS and started the Office of Transition Initiatives at USAID.
Zeitlin is more of an unknown entity and, arguably, has a much tougher job, advocating reforms to a G-77 that is sceptical of any U.S. reform initiatives. He’s of Nigerian descent and has a Nigerian name, which will help assuage that skepticism, but he was also a partner at Goldman, which works in the other direction. He would do well to avoid making comparisons to the private sector. Considering that he doesn’t come from a UN background, it’s also probably a good idea that he hit the ground running, show that he’s willing to listen and learn, and be prepared to be patient with the politics of reform.