UNICEF Deputy Director Hilde Frafjord Johnson and outgoing Executive Director Ann Veneman at the UNICEF meeting. 
Photo: Norway's UN Mission/Emma Kwesiga Lydersen.UNICEF Deputy Director Hilde Frafjord Johnson and outgoing Executive Director Ann Veneman at the UNICEF meeting. Photo: Norway's UN Mission/Emma Kwesiga Lydersen

Haiti tragedy affects UNICEF board meeting

1/14/2010 // The aftermath of the devastating earthquake in Haiti set a grim backdrop to the first UNICEF executive board meeting of 2010. Delegates gathered at the UN headquarters in New York from 12 to 14 January to discuss the departure of UNICEF’s Executive Director Ann Veneman and the need for sustained support for the fund, but the situation in Haiti became a natural talking point.

As the effects of the earthquake emerged, UNICEF briefed the board on the key role it is playing in the humanitarian effort. UNICEF’s office in Haiti was less affected than the MINUSTAH headquarters and it was therefore able to take part in the coordinated UN response to the crisis early on. Given Haiti’s young population child protection is a particularly important issue in the aftermath of the quake. There is now a risk that children in particular may become victims as families and communities are torn apart.

Farewell to UNICEF's leader:
Speech after speech praised the Executive Director Ann Veneman for her dedication and leadership. Ms. Veneman leaves in April after five years as head of UNICEF. In a joint statement the Nordic countries praised Veneman as a dedicated leader during a very challenging time for children. The statement pointed out that significant progress has also been made during Ms. Veneman’s tenure, in part due to UNICEF’s strong engagement. Today, ten thousand fewer children die every day than in 1990. Many delegates also pointed out that Veneman successfully put the spotlight on the plight of the girl child and polio eradication.

Strong support for UNICEF despite financial crisis:
Norway announced that it will maintain its core contribution, at NOK 450 million (approx. USD  80 mill. ). Norway -- the third largest donor to UNICEF -- is encouraged that many other counties will also their level of support despite the global financial crisis.

Norway gets a place on the Executive Board:
Counsellor Paul Klouman Bekken of the Mission of Norway was elected Vice-President of the Executive Board for 2010, representing the Western European and Others Group (WEOG). The position entails coordinating between WEOG and UNICEF, as well as contributing to preparing and implementing the Executive Board sessions. It provides the Mission of Norway with enhanced oversight of Executive Board processes. The Executive Board monitors the performance of UNICEF, approves UNICEF programmes and decides on administrative and financial plans and budgets.

 See photos of the Norwegian delegation at the UNICEF meeting on Flickr.


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