Nambiar appointed UN chief of staff

Monday, January 1, 2007 (United Nations):

New UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon has appointed veteran Indian diplomat Vijay Nambiar as his chief of staff and Haitian journalist Michele Montas as his spokesperson.

"Today's appointments will serve as a solid basis for establishing my team and pursuing a programme of reform of the Secretariat to provide continuity along with change," said Ban.

Ban also said he had known Nambiar for a long time and "we share deep confidence and respect for each other."

Reacting to it, 63-year-old Nambiar said it is a great responsibility. "I feel honoured that the Secretary General has put his trust in me."

Nambiar, who held several senior positions during his career with the Indian Foreign Service, has an intimate knowledge of working of UN.

He will be among the closest advisers of Ban and have a major influence in the selection of incumbents for other senior positions as also in the policy making.

He was Special adviser to outgoing Secretary General Kofi Annan whom Ban succeeded and the new appointment takes him to highest echelon of the UN hierarchy.

Ban also appointed Montas, who has experience at the UN, as his spokesperson. She is an award-winning journalist from Haiti. He is expected to announce more senior appointments over the next few days.

Experienced diplomat

Nambiar, who is a former Indian Ambassador to the United Nations, was given several sensitive assignments by Annan including travelling to the Middle East to chalk out UN role following war between Israel and Hizbollah in Lebanon.

Before joining Annan's team in March, Nambiar was Deputy National Security Advisor to the Government of India. He previously served as India's Permanent

Representative to the UN in New York, from May 2002 to June
2004. Earlier as Ambassador of India, he served successively in Pakistan (2000-2001), China (1996-2000), Malaysia (1993-1996), and Afghanistan (1990-1992). He was also Ambassador of India in Algeria from 1985 to 1988.

Nambiar joined the Indian Foreign Service in 1967 and spent his early years in the diplomatic service specializing in the Chinese language serving in Hong Kong and Beijing. He also served during the mid-1970s in Belgrade, Yugoslavia.

At the time, the Assembly was headed by Julian Robert Hunte, the Foreign Minister of St Lucia, Montas was called upon to field press questions on a number of sensitive issues.

These included a proposed treaty banning on human cloning and the Assembly's emergency special session on a ruling of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) concerning Israel's construction of a separation barrier.

Though Ban fomally takes over as Secretary-General on New Year's day, his first day at the UN will Tuesday as Monday is a holiday.