MONUSCO Head, Martin Kobler, Seeking UN OCHA Head Position

MONUSCO Head Martin Kobler briefing UN Security Council

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On November 26, 2014, the United Nations (UN) Under Secretary General (SG) of Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), Baroness Valerie Amos, resigned from her position. Since then, several people outside and inside the UN have been seeking the position.

According to sources within the United Nations in New York, outside UN candidates, usually nominated by their countries, have come from Europe and Asia. Italy has nominated Emma Bonino. The United Kingdom (UK) has put forward the names of Andrew Lansley, Caroline Spelman, and Stephen O'Brien. United Arab Emirates (UAE) is proposing Lubna Khalid Al Qasimi.
All these candidates have various experiences and backgrounds. Most have never worked at the United Nations. These include Lubna Khalid Al Qasimi, Andrew Lansley, and to some extent most of the UK candidates. Andrew Lansley was Health Secretary and Leader of the House.
However, other candidates, espcially  Emma Bonino, appear to have an impressive resume, with some at the United Nations contending that she should wait for the position of the UN Secretary General itself to be open, instead of  competing for UN Deputy Secretary General opening, where she runs the risk of overshadowing Ban Ki-Moon if she is selected.

Stakes High for MONUSCO Head Martin Kobler

One surprising candidate is Martin Kobler, proposed by Germany. Martin Kobler is the UN SG Special Representative in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and the head of UN peacekeeping mission MONUSCO. He is now leading military operations against Rwandan rebels in DRC and his prior experience includes similar or close roles in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Although Martin Kobler's background may constitute a plus, critics at the United Nations in New York wonder how his proven record in pushing for  military operations to address humanitarian crises would not conflict with the role of an humanitarian advocate and coordinator.

Given the on-going military operations in Eastern DRC, the stakes appear high for Martin Kobler,  with the position of UN Depcuty SG for OCHA in the balance.