Eckhard tipped for UN spokesman role

Although the identity of the spokesperson to new United Nations secretary-general Kofi Annan has not yet been confirmed, UN veteran Fred Eckhard now looks the leading candidate.

Although the identity of the spokesperson to new United Nations

secretary-general Kofi Annan has not yet been confirmed, UN veteran Fred

Eckhard now looks the leading candidate.



Eckhard became acting spokesman on 2 January - three weeks after Annan

was confirmed as successor to Boutros Boutros-Ghali. He told PR Week

that he would know by the end of next month whether he was to be

confirmed in the post or become deputy spokesman.



Eckhard pledged to follow a low-key approach - in contrast to his

colourful predecessor Sylvana Foa.



’It will be very tied to the facts and to the secretary-general,’ he

said. ’A spokesman cannot retain credibility with the press if he is

always doing PR and spinning facts.’



However, Christopher Lockwood, Daily Telegraph diplomatic editor,

suggested that a low-key approach might dent the role’s

effectiveness.



’Sylvana was an excellent spokesman, with a very good feel for what made

news. You need someone who is prepared to sell the UN to public opinion

and to member countries because the instincts of governments will always

be not to get involved,’ he said.



Before assuming his new role, Eckhard worked for Annan as senior liaison

officer for the UN Department of Peace-keeping Operations, prior to

which he was a spokesman in the field for UN peace-keeping operations in

Namibia and the former Yugoslavia.



He joined the UN in 1985, as an information officer after working for

the UN Association of the USA for 12 years.



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