News / Africa

    UN Under-Secretary General Discusses Career of Public Service

    Under Secretary-General Tegegnework Gettu (right) and John Ashe, (left) the president of the 68th Session of the UN General Assembly, listen to Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon’s address on January 28, 2013.
    Under Secretary-General Tegegnework Gettu (right) and John Ashe, (left) the president of the 68th Session of the UN General Assembly, listen to Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon’s address on January 28, 2013.
    Ashenafi Abedje
    Tegegnework Gettu hails from Ethiopia. Since March of 2013, he has served as United Nations Under-Secretary General for General Assembly Affairs and Conference. The UN official says his first year as Under-Secretary-General was productive.

    “I just finished my 10-month report to the Secretary General and he seems to be happy. I had six priorities, all of them addressed during my first year. So overall, it was very challenging, but I think I managed to do very well,” he says.

    The six priorities included managing last year’s General Assembly session, reorganizing the department, promoting integrated global management, accelerated implementation of technological innovations, and work-sharing with offices in Geneva, New York, Nairobi and Vienna.
     
    Public Service
     
    The UN official says public service is something he grew into as his career evolved.

    “Getting trained in development administration and management skills and practically using it - in academics, international organizations and government - I managed to get exposure that progressively attracted me to it,” he explains.
     
    The interview with the UN's Tegegnework Gettu
    The interview with the UN's Tegegnework Gettui
    || 0:00:00
    ...    
     
    X


    He says he has benefited greatly from the opportunities afforded him and from his long years of public service.
     
    Symbolism

    Tegegnework is one of a handful of Africans to have held the post of Under-Secretary General – an experience he says he finds humbling.

    “As an African, I feel proud I was given this chance,” he says. “I have the double responsibility as an African to make sure that I succeed in this. It also shows that Africans are quite capable of competing and (performing) this kind of a job, and that more opportunities have to be opened up for more Africans.”

    Stereotype

    Some view UN officials as people who live cushioned lives and are detached from the realities of the world.  Tegegnework considers such portrayals as inaccurate.

    “The UN is not a monolithic organization; it has structural limitations and bureaucratic weaknesses,” he notes. “But it has played a very critical role in many parts of the world, and quite a large number of (UN) people have sacrificed their lives. So to reach such a conclusion is unfair.”

    Tegegnework says despite the wear and tear, the UN has served the world well the past 68 years – especially the poor, refugees and the dispossessed.

    Africa

    The Ethiopian-born international diplomat has served with the world body for years – especially on issues that pertain to Africa. So how does he assess the continent’s status today – some 50 years after independence? Tegegnework sees a mixed picture with a promising outlook.

    “We have lost decades of conflict, lost decades of dictatorships and lost decades of unaccountability in Africa,” he laments. “But the past few years, Africa has been making progress. The continent needs to focus now on continuing economic growth – not only from the service sector, but in the industrialization in agriculture and the creation jobs for the large youth population that is the majority in Africa today.”

    Tegegnework says while economic development should not be held hostage to political issues, both democratic governance and economic growth are critical to Africa’s future.
    “Economic progress, one way or the other, must be done in Africa because we have good natural endowment and huge labor force. But democratic institutions, accountable government and economic development are critical for Africa now,” stresses the Under-Secretary General.”

    The UN diplomat says Africans need to move “from a survival to a stability mode, and on to a successful model mode.” That, he says, will lead Africa to become “significant” in global affairs.
     
    Tegegnework is married and has two children.

    You May Like

    Syrian Rebel Realignment Likely as al-Qaida Leader Blesses Split

    Jihadist group Jabhat al-Nusra splits from al-Qaida in what observers dub a ‘deception and denial’ exercise

    New India Child Labor Law Could Make Children More Vulnerable

    Concerns that allowing children to work in family enterprises will push more to work

    What Take-out Food Reveals About American History

    From fast-food restaurants to pizza delivery, the history of take-out food explains a lot about the changes taking place in society

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: Ameyu Etana from: Addis Ababa
    June 14, 2014 12:23 PM
    Nice to hear from you mr. Tegegnework Gettu. As you noted, we do not have to blame UN as it is but others, who make it speak for few as if it is there merely for them.

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Uganda Unveils its First Solar-powered Busi
    X
    July 28, 2016 4:16 AM
    A solar-powered bus described by its Ugandan makers as the first in Africa has made its public debut. Kiira Motors' electric bus, Kayoola, displayed recently at a stadium in Uganda's capital. From Kampala, Maurice Magorane filed this report narrated by Salem Solomon.
    Video

    Video Uganda Unveils its First Solar-powered Bus

    A solar-powered bus described by its Ugandan makers as the first in Africa has made its public debut. Kiira Motors' electric bus, Kayoola, displayed recently at a stadium in Uganda's capital. From Kampala, Maurice Magorane filed this report narrated by Salem Solomon.
    Video

    Video Silicon Valley: More Than A Place, It's a Culture

    Silicon Valley is a technology powerhouse and a place that companies such as Google, Facebook and Apple call home. It is a region in northern California that stretches from San Francisco to San Jose. But, more than that, it's known for its startup culture. VOA's Elizabeth Lee went inside one company to find out what it's like to work in a startup.
    Video

    Video Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Process

    It’s been a bitter and divisive election season – but first time Indian-American delegate Dr. Shashi Gupta headed to the Democratic National Convention with a sense of hope. VOA’s Katherine Gypson followed this immigrant with the love of U.S. politics all the way to Philadelphia.
    Video

    Video Philadelphia Uses DNC Spotlight to Profile Historic Role in Founding of United States

    The slogan of the Democratic National Convention now underway in Philadelphia is “Let’s Make History Again” which recognizes the role the city played in the foundation of the United States in the 18th century. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, local institutions are opening their doors in an effort to capitalize on the convention spotlight to draw visitors, and to offer more than just a history lesson.
    Video

    Video A Life of Fighting Back: Hillary Clinton Shatters Glass Ceiling

    Hillary Clinton made history Thursday, overcoming personal and political setbacks to become the first woman to win the presidential nomination of a major U.S. political party. If she wins in November, she will go from “first lady” to U.S. Senator from New York, to Secretary of State, to “Madam President.” Polls show Clinton is both beloved and despised. White House Correspondent Cindy Saine takes a look at the life of the woman both supporters and detractors agree is a fighter for the ages.
    Video

    Video Dutch Entrepreneurs Turn Rainwater Into Beer

    June has been recorded as one of the wettest months in more than a century in many parts of Europe. To a group of entrepreneurs in Amsterdam the rain came as a blessing, as they used the extra water to brew beer. Serginho Roosblad has more to the story.
    Video

    Video First Time Delegate’s First Day Frustrations

    With thousands of people filling the streets of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania for the 2016 Democratic National Convention, VOA’s Kane Farabaugh narrowed in on one delegate as she made her first trip to a national party convention. It was a day that was anything but routine for this United States military veteran.
    Video

    Video Commerce Thrives on US-Mexico Border

    At the Democratic Convention in Philadelphia this week, the party’s presumptive presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton, is expected to attack proposals made by her opponent, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Last Friday, President Barack Obama hosted his Mexican counterpart, President Enrique Peña Nieto, to underscore the good relations between the two countries. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Tucson.
    Video

    Video Film Helps Save Ethiopian Children Thought to be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at effort of African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video Recycling Lifeline for Lebanon’s Last Glassblowers

    In a small Lebanese coastal town, one family is preserving a craft that stretches back millennia. The art of glass blowing was developed by Phoenicians in the region, and the Khalifehs say they are the only ones keeping the skill alive in Lebanon. But despite teaming up with an eco-entrepreneur and receiving an unexpected boost from the country’s recent trash crisis the future remains uncertain. John Owens reports from Sarafand.
    Video

    Video Migrants Continue to Risk Lives Crossing US Border from Mexico

    In his speech Thursday before the Republican National Convention, the party’s presidential candidate, Donald Trump, reiterated his proposal to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border if elected. Polls show a large percentage of Americans support better control of the nation's southwestern border, but as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from the border town of Nogales in the Mexican state of Sonora, the situation faced by people trying to cross the border is already daunting.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora