- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 17, 2010

UNITED NATIONS | U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Tuesday selected U.S. foreign policy expert Tony Lake, who was an adviser to President Obama, as his candidate to head UNICEF, the U.N. children’s agency.

UNICEF’s board must approve the selection, and is expected to do so.

Mr. Lake, 70, would replace Ann Veneman, a former U.S. secretary of agriculture who was appointed by President George W. Bush. She announced in late December that she would not seek a second five-year term as UNICEF’s executive director. Her term ends April 30.

The head of UNICEF has always been an American, largely because the United States is the largest contributor to the agency, which is active in 190 countries.

U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice sent a letter to U.N. ambassadors last month recommending Mr. Lake, saying he would bring “extraordinary experience, strategic vision and energy to UNICEF’s essential work.”

Ms. Rice, who was Mr. Obama’s chief foreign policy adviser during his presidential election campaign, noted that Mr. Lake has served nine years on the board of the U.S. Fund for UNICEF, including serving as chairman from 2004 to 2007. She also stressed his “lifetime commitment in advancing children’s rights, protection, welfare, development and education.”

Mr. Lake served as national security adviser to President Clinton, but in the 2008 presidential campaign, he backed Mr. Obama rather than Hillary Rodham Clinton and became a foreign policy adviser to the Illinois senator.

He was considered a contender to be U.S. secretary of state when Mr. Obama won the presidency, but the job went to Mrs. Clinton.

Mr. Lake joined the Foreign Service in 1962, did two tours in Vietnam and in 1969 accompanied then-National Security Adviser Henry Kissinger on his first secret meeting with North Vietnamese negotiators in Paris. He worked on several Democratic presidential campaigns and was one of Mr. Clinton’s chief foreign policy advisers when he ran for president in 1992.

Currently, Mr. Lake is a professor at Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service.

Charlie MacCormack, president and chief executive of Save The Children in the United States, said: “The larger children’s movement of citizens and NGOs and scholars and parents are hopeful that Tony will bring vision and experience and commitment to completing the children’s agenda and moving us even more rapidly to the day when every child has the rights to education, health, safety and participation truly met.”

Mr. MacCormack added: “Tony has a lifetime of experience working toward this goal.”

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