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Voting for the selection of a director-general for the International Organization for Migration begins, a competition between the American candidate and her European counterpart


After an intense campaign that lasted for months, the member states of the International Organization for Migration meet to choose their next director general from among the current Portuguese director or his American assistant, while this UN agency plays a vital role.

The 175 member states of the organization will vote by secret ballot to choose former Portuguese minister Antonio Vitorino for a second term or his assistant, Amy Pope.

This position is very important in the current circumstances.

According to many observers, it may take several rounds before the name of the winner is known.

The organization, which was founded in 1951, but did not become a United Nations agency until seven years ago, is the main player on the international scene in terms of immigration, and it is allocated a budget that increases year by year.

The number of migrants reached 281 million in 2020.

The long battle to win this position led to a chasm between the Europeans and the United States, which launched a campaign in all directions to restore this American position as a tradition, according to observers.

“It seems to have raised some diplomatic eyebrows,” Megan Bradley, a professor at McGill University in Montreal who specializes in the International Organization for Migration, told AFP.


It is customary for the official of a United Nations agency to be given a second term if he so wishes.

When Amy Pope announced her candidacy in October, “it was a bit of a shock,” a European diplomat in Geneva told AFP on condition of anonymity. He stressed that the move “was not considered a friendly decision,” expressing regret for the battle that “sent a bad signal” at a time when the United States and European countries should “show a united front” on the world stage.

And Antonio Vitorino, the 66-year-old former Portuguese defense minister and deputy prime minister, appears to be holding on to the job.

“All those who preceded me over 70 years served two terms, and I see no reason why a successful first term should not be followed by a second term,” he told AFP in March.

If elected, Amy Pope, 49, would be the first woman to run the organisation. The American candidate believes that the stakes are too high to be satisfied with the current situation. She asserts that she has the necessary vision to bring the organization into the “twenty-first century”.

tradition in exchange for another

Megan Bradley stressed that the custom is based on giving a second term to the Director-General, but the United States also wants to push for respect for “an old tradition, which is to present a candidate for the position of Director-General.”

Amy Pope has a long career in the field of immigration, extensive experience in disaster management, especially during the era of former US President Barack Obama, and support at the highest levels.

US President Joe Biden said Wednesday that his experience working with it showed that it could “effectively mobilize the International Organization for Migration and its members to respond to growing migration challenges.”

“She is the right person for the job,” Biden confirmed, capping a major support campaign launched by the US State Department.

Megan Bradley believed that the increasing importance of this organization in the face of the huge increase in the number of immigrants, especially as a result of climate change, “increases the importance for the United States of re-establishing its traditional control at the head of the organization.”

Tough competition

Antonio Vitorino took over the organization in 2018, becoming the second non-American to hold the position.

He won by acclamation after member states rejected Donald Trump’s candidate, who is accused of anti-Muslims and of denying the reality of climate change.

According to observers, Antonio Vitorino performed well at the head of an expanding organization, which now includes about 19,000 employees, and its budget has almost doubled since 2018, reaching about three billion dollars last year.

And he receives strong support from European countries in particular, because they consider that he “achieved a solid first term,” according to what the European diplomat said, expecting that “the competition will be fierce.”

Merry C. Vega is a highly respected and accomplished news author. She began her career as a journalist, covering local news for a small-town newspaper. She quickly gained a reputation for her thorough reporting and ability to uncover the truth.

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