GENEVA – The UN migration agency rejected the Trump administration's candidate to lead it on Friday, a blow to the US leadership of an agency that addresses one of the most pressing problems in the world, and only the second time that it will not be led by an American since 1951.
Portuguese socialist and former European Union commissioner Antonio Vitorino won an election to be the next director general of the International Organization for Migration, surpassing both a senior official of IOM as the American candidate Ken Isaacs, the body said in a statement.
Vitorino, 61, will become the second general director of the non-US group. UU since the intergovernmental organization was founded. He is a former commissioner of the EU for Home Affairs and Justice who has been president of the "Notre Europa" expert group for the past seven years, and considers himself very close to the UN Secretary General, Antonio Guterres, also a Portuguese Socialist at the beginning. of his political career. Race
Isaacs was eliminated in the first rounds of voting, and Vitorino won by acclimatization over runner-up Laura Thompson of Costa Rica, currently the deputy general director of IOM, who was trying to become the first female head of the agency.
The measure marks a scolding rejection of the US candidate just as the Trump administration has withdrawn or rejected international institutions, including two others based in Geneva: earlier this month, the United States withdrew from the Human Rights Council of The UN, and Trump has recently criticized the World Trade Organization for being "unfair" to the United States
"Another sign that the power, authority and prestige of the US have declined so drastically , Tweeted Keith Harper, who was ambassador of the Obama administration to the Rights Council. "The Director of IOM is seen as a" US seat ". and Trump could not place an American in it. "
The US State Department congratulated Vitorino and called the vote" a very competitive election with three highly qualified candidates. "" IOM is an important partner for the United States around the world, and we are committed to working with IOM to address the causes of migration and promote safe and legal migration, "he said in a statement.
Isaacs & # 39; The candidacy was marred by US policies, such as travel bans and separations of immigrant families, and his own comments that critics have described as anti-Muslim, but few diplomats who left a conference center in Geneva. they dared to offer an explanation of how an American was stripped of a position in which the United States held a blockade for decades.
One, the Senegalese diplomat Youssoupha Ndiay And, he simply spoke of the initial result: "The American is out." Two other diplomats confirmed that, as well as the two-person race that remained between Vitorino and Thompson, while the delegates had lunch. The two spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to publicly disclose the information.
The winner, who will be determined by members who pay their dues and vote among the 172 countries of the IOM, will succeed the United States for a long time. diplomat William Lacy Swing, who leaves in September.
An intergovernmental body that became a United Nations-related agency in 2016, IOM has had only one general director who was not American since its inception 67 years ago.
But Mark Hetfield, a self-styled friend of Isaacs who runs the humanitarian group HIAS, who works with IOM, blamed the policies and invectives of the White House man, not the candidate for the post of immigration agency. the ONU.
"This IOM election really was not about Ken Isaacs, for whom I have a lot of respect as a humanitarian," said Hetfield. "The election was an international referendum that rejected President Trump and his xenophobic, Islamophobic and isolationist policies, let's face it, Isaacs' tweets were no worse than those that left the White House."
The administration is just emerging from the greatest international contempt for the separation of migrant families that cross the border with Mexico. The US Supreme Court UU He also confirmed his ban on traveling to the United States for citizens of several countries, most of them predominantly Muslim. Trump has also removed the United States from the Global Compact for Migration.
Even before that, Isaacs was on the defensive about retweets and other comments that some critics considered anti-Muslim, so much so that he closed his Twitter account. After that, Isaacs carefully handled his appearances in the media and kept the script, with advisers from the State Department advising him or him.
Isaacs, vice president of the evangelical Christian humanitarian organization Samaritan & # 39; s Purse, led by Pastor Franklin Graham, met with dozens of government officials during his months offer, working diligently to end suspicions and pointing his career in the field and as a manager. At a meeting with reporters in March, he said that IOM's work was "in my wheelhouse."
Playing for Isaacs along with the tradition, it was the money: The United States is traditionally the largest donor of the IOM, followed closely by the European Union. Union.
IOM has more than 10,000 employees in offices in more than 150 countries. His work has been instrumental in providing humanitarian assistance to migrants and helping track the deaths of migrants in Mediterranean waters, often deadly, between North Africa. It also helps to relocate immigrants accepted by foreign countries, and sometimes returns them to their homes.
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