Secretary-General Kofi Annan has appointed Ad Melkert to serve as Under-Secretary-General and the Associate Administrator of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). Melkert, a Dutch national, will begin on 1 March 2006.
Melkert has been a great supporter of the Global March Against Child Labour since its inception and walked shoulder to shoulder during the physical march in The Netherlands in 1998 along with thousands of child labourers and his family members. Melkert has been singularly responsible for bringing various UN agencies together on a common platform to promote the inter-linkages between child labour, education and poverty. He has provided relentless support in the establishment of the Global Task Force on Child Labour and Education.
Melkert has chaired the Round Tables on the Elimination of Child Labour, Achieving EFA and Poverty Reduction, initiated by the Global March along with ILO, UNESCO and UNICEF in New Delhi, Brasilia and Beijing, November 2003-2005. Melkert has categorically stated that eliminating child labour is essential in the quest for achieving the MDGs, especially EFA and poverty eradication. He has strongly advocated that the elimination of child labour is a cross-cutting issue in tackling poverty, illiteracy, infant immortality, environmental degradation and other MDGs and, therefore, urged all the Governments to embed child labour elimination as integral component of achieving the MDGs. He has also reminded others that child labour is the single biggest barrier to the realisation of Education for All goals.
In May 2004 Melkert travelled to Florence to be with the children who attended the first Children's World Congress on Child Labour.
Kailash Satayrthi, Chair, Global March, and President, Global Campaign for Education, hailed the appointment of Melkert saying, "This new appointment quite accurately catalogues the path-breaking and outstanding contributions rendered by Ad Melkert in the international social policy domain."
"I’m excited that Ad Melkert will be joining me in leading UNDP. The Secretary-General has made a superb choice, given Ad’s experience and accomplishments across many development issues, including democratic governance and women’s empowerment," said UNDP Administrator Kemal Dervis. "I look forward to working with him to help all countries achieve the Millennium Development Goals."
Since November 2002, Melkert has represented the Dutch constituency as an Executive Director of the World Bank, where he has been a strong advocate for increased donor coordination and harmonisation, and the need for more equitable development policies, good governance and democratic institutions.
Melkert has a longstanding involvement in issues of international and development cooperation. He was active in the international and European youth movements and worked for Novib, a Dutch non-governmental organisation active in development issues. Melkert served as Minister of Social Affairs and Employment, and was a member of the Standing Committees for Foreign Affairs and Development Cooperation in the Parliament. As Minister, responsible for his country’s Department of Equal Opportunities, Melkert led the Dutch delegations to the UN World Conference on Women in Beijing (1995) and the annual meetings of the International Labour Organisations.
Previously, Melkert had a prominent political career in the Dutch Labour Party, where he was one of the youngest members of the Lower House of Parliament. He became his party's parliamentary leader in 1998. In 2001 he was elected party leader, succeeding then Prime Minister Wim Kok.
"UNDP is on the front lines every day around the world, assisting those who need it most," said Melkert. "I am honoured to have this opportunity to work with Kemal Dervis and the entire UNDP team on the invaluable work they do in support of the world’s poor."
As Associate Administrator, Melkert will oversee UNDP’s programme operations as well as take on other leadership responsibilities in the organisation, said Dervis in announcing the appointment. UNDP focuses on helping developing countries build capacity in the areas of democratic governance, conflict prevention and recovery, poverty reduction, energy and environment, and HIV/AIDS. In all of its work, UNDP seeks to promote human rights and the empowerment of women.
Melkert holds a Master's degree in Political Sciences from the University of Amsterdam. He is married to Chilean painter Mónica León Borquez and has two daughters. In addition to his native language Dutch, Melkert speaks English, German, French, and Spanish.