Egypt's former minister Ghada Wali sworn in as executive director of UNODC

Ahram Online , Saturday 22 Feb 2020

Ghada Wali
Executive Director of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) Ghada Wali during her meeting with UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres in New York on Saturday (Photo courtesy of Foreign Affairs Ministry)

Egypt's former minister of social solidarity Ghada Wali was sworn in in New York as the executive director of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), in addition to serving as director-general of the United Nations Office at Vienna (UNOV).

According to a statement issued on Saturday by the foreign ministry, Wali took the oath during the reception held by UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres at the UN headquarters in New York.

Egypt's permanent representative at the UN, Ambassador Mohamed Idris, held an event to honour Wali in which UN leaders, ambassadors and heads of geographical groups in the organisation were present, the statement added.

Ambassador Idris noted that there was a fierce competition in the selection process of Wali's position.

On 21 November, Guterres announced the appointment of Wali, minister of social solidarity from 2014 to 2019, as the next executive director of the UNODC and director-general of the UNOV to succeed Yuri Fedotov of the Russian Federation.

Wali expressed her appreciation of the support she received from the Egyptian political leadership, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and its diplomatic missions, the statement said, in addition to expressing gratitude for the trust of the UN secretary-general.

Ghada Wali

Wali said she wants to transfer her experiences gained while working in the Egyptian cabinet to the international scene, noting that combating crime in all its forms necessitates a comprehensive societal vision, and affirming the link between crossborder organised crime, terrorism and corruption.

She echoed her approach in her video statement to the UN a day earlier when she affirmed her office’s “unique approach” to addressing the complex intertwining challenges of terrorism, crime and corruption.

According to the UN, Wali used a “holistic approach” to maintain a recently-developed UN project tackling “the full range of obstacles.”

Last year, the UN Office of Counter-Terrorism and the UNODC started working closely with the UN Counter-Terrorism Committee Executive Directorate and UN Office for Disarmament Affairs to develop a project enhancing national legislative, strategic and operational capacities to prevent, detect and counter firearms trafficking and other illegal activities related to terrorism and organised crime in Central Asia.

Wali singled out, during her video statement, adequate legal frameworks, strengthening law enforcement and criminal justice capacity, improving data and addressing cooperation gaps, saying that it is “essential to deal effectively with threats that no country can face alone.”

“I will be eagerly following the project’s advancement and I hope that its outcomes and learnings can inform the international community’s efforts, feeding into the next reviews of the UN Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy, this year and in 2022,” concluded the UNODC chief.

Wali, who holds a Masters’ degree in Humanities and Bachelor of Arts in foreign languages and literature from Colorado State University, brings to the position over 30 years of experience in the field of sustainable development, poverty reduction and social protection, women and youth empowerment.

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