17 March 2006

General Assembly Elects Achim Steiner of Germany Executive Director of United Nations Environment Programme

Also Fills Vacancy on Committee on Contributions

NEW YORK, 16 March (UN Headquarters) -- In a brief meeting this morning, the General Assembly elected a new Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and filled a vacancy on the Committee of Contributions.

Following a decision of the current UNEP Director, Klaus Töpfer (Germany) not to seek a further term of office, Achim Steiner, also from Germany, was elected as Executive Director of that Programme.  His four-year term of office will begin on 15 June this year and end on 14 June 2010.

According to the Secretary-General's note on Mr. Steiner's nomination (document A/60/718), Mr. Töpfer's appointment was previously extended for two months to allow time to identify a suitable successor and ensure continuity in the work of UNEP and its Governing Council.

The representative of South Africa, on behalf of the "Group of 77" developing countries and China, congratulated Mr. Steiner on his appointment, but raised concern over the fact that the regional groups, while informed, had not been consulted on the appointment.

Also congratulating the new Executive Director was the representative of Kenya, who also thanked Mr. Töpfer and wished him well in his new endeavours.

Acting on the recommendation of its Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary), the Assembly appointed Gordon Eckersley (Australia) as a member of the Committee on Contributions, for a term of office beginning today and ending on 31 December 2007.  Mr. Eckersley will be filling the remainder of the term of David Dutton (Australia), who resigned from the Committee.

In order to consider the report of the Fifth Committee on that matter (document A/60/543/Add.1), the Assembly reopened consideration of a sub-item of its agenda, on the appointments to fill vacancies in subsidiary organs and other appointments.

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