Open Letter to the UN Secretary-General on the UN High Commissioner for Refugees

The Honorable Ban Ki-moon
United Nations
New York, New York, 10017

Dear Mr. Secretary-General:

On behalf of Refugees International (RI), I wanted to express our appreciation and support for the important work that you and your colleagues have undertaken to not only save lives and protect the dignity of displaced people, but to promote peace and stability worldwide.

An essential component of the work of the United Nations in addressing the plight of forcibly displaced people is the office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), which has been ably led for the past 10 years by a man you have recognized for his vision and principled leadership – qualities which are essential to the executive of an organization charged with both protection and assistance for the world’s more than 16 million refugees and other populations of concern, including an estimated 38 million internally displaced people.  

This year, your office is tasked with the search for a worthy successor to the current incumbent. We were very pleased that he was selected in a process that was open to the public through the presence of representatives from non-governmental organizations on the search committee, as well as the solicitation of public comments on the final candidates under consideration. 

As an organization with over 35 years’ experience working on behalf of the displaced, we urge you to develop and announce a public process for the selection of the next High Commissioner that will permit the direct involvement of and consultations by experts and organizations from outside the UN system and provide necessary public scrutiny of the final candidates. That publicly transparent process increased the confidence of the public, civil society organizations, the media, and even member states that it was truly an effort to recruit the person with the greatest integrity, superior abilities of mind and heart, and a widely recognized expertise in political and international affairs so as to be able to successfully lead a UN agency. 

Thank you again for your tireless efforts to promote the goals of the United Nations and for all of your efforts to improve the protection and enjoyment of the rights of all peoples of the world.

Michel Gabaudan