UN comms chief Mortimer to join Salzburg Seminar

NEW YORK/SALZBURG: The United Nations' top communicator is to leave at end of the year to join global think-tank the Salzburg Seminar.

Edward Mortimer, director of comms and head of the speechwriting unit at the UN's HQ in New York, will become senior V-P and the first chief programme officer in Salzburg Seminar's 60-year history.

The British ex-journalist will leave the UN alongside outgoing secretary-general Kofi Annan, whose final day in office is 31 December and who brought Mortimer to the organisation in 1998.

Ban Ki-moon will succeed Annan on 1 January 2007, becoming the UN's eighth secretary-general. A decision on a replacement for Mortimer, whose team is six-strong, is yet to be taken. However, Stéphane Dujarric remains principal spokesman, overseeing a media team of around 12. It is not known if Dujarric will stay once Ki-moon's reign gets under way. 

Mortimer is a former Financial Times foreign affairs commentator and an expert in Middle-East affairs. He will join the Salzburg Seminar in Austria in February. 

Salzburg Seminar president Stephen Salyer, who is based in Washington DC, said: ‘I can't imagine anyone better qualified to help shape our global agenda and help realise our institutional mission of providing practical solutions to some of the world's most pressing concerns.'

The Salzburg Seminar was founded in 1947 by three Harvard University graduates. Earlier this year, Chris Philipsborn, a former head of European corporate affairs at BT Group, joined the independent NGO as Europe director (PRWeek, 15 September).

Philipsborn said: ‘My hire and Edward's arrival are signs that the Salzburg Seminar is determined to play a major role in European public-policy debates.'

With around 30 full-time staff, most of whom are based in Austria, the group conducts most of its activity at Schloss Leopoldskron, an 18th-century palace.

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