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

Disappointing Report on China's Economy Shakes Markets

In London and New York shares lost 3 percent, while Paris and Germany dropped around 2.4 percent More

DRC Tries Mega-Farms to Feed Population

Park at Boukanga Lonzo currently has 5,000 hectares under cultivation, crops stretching as far as eye can see, and is start of ambitious large-scale agriculture plan More

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Areas are spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, source of livelihood for fishermen and herders who have called the marshes home for generations More

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.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOAi
X
August 31, 2015 2:17 AM
Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.

VOA Blogs