GENEVA: Former White House advisor Amy Pope won a vote in Geneva today to head the UN migration agency, prevailing in a tense contest against a Portuguese incumbent who had the support of European countries.
The International Organization for Migration (IOM) said Pope would become the first woman to lead the organisation when she begins her five-year term on Oct 1.
Pope, who served as deputy director-general for management and reform at IOM, took leave to campaign against her boss António Vitorino, who has been in the position since 2018.
Pope wrote on Twitter she was “humbled and honoured” to be chosen by IOM’s 175 member states as new director-general.
“I am ready to work with ALL our member states and global partners to unleash the opportunities provided by effective, orderly and humane migration,” she wrote.
In 2021, Pope served as senior adviser on migration to US president Joe Biden, who publicly backed her candidacy.
“As IOM’s largest bilateral donor, the US strongly supports Ms Pope’s vision and looks forward to working with her to implement the critical reforms necessary to create a more effective, inclusive IOM,” US secretary of state Antony Blinken said in a statement.
More than 100 million people are forcibly displaced around the world and IOM seeks to ensure humane and orderly migration and intervenes where needed.
Vitorino, a former European Commissioner who is close to his compatriot United Nations secretary-general Antonio Guterres, had touted an increase in the body’s annual budget among his successes.
Asked about the contest earlier this year, Vitorino described it as unprecedented.
“We have never happened to have an incumbent director-general that faces a competition with one of his deputy generals. Let’s call it an innovation,” Vitorino told journalists in March.
He said at the time he had Portugal’s backing as well as the “strong encouragement” of the European Union.