By JAMEY KEATEN | June 29, 2018 1:44 pm
GENEVA (AP) — The U.N.’s migration agency snubbed the Trump administration’s candidate to lead it on Friday, a major blow to U.S. leadership of a body addressing one of the world’s most pressing issues — and only the second time that it won’t be run by an American since 1951.
Portuguese Socialist and former European Union commissioner Antonio Vitorino won a race to be the next director-general of the International Organization for Migration, edging out both a top IOM official and U.S. candidate Ken Isaacs, the body said in a statement.
Vitorino, 61, will become the group’s second director-general not from the U.S. since the intergovernmental organization was founded. He is a former EU commissioner for Home and Justice Affairs who has been President of the “Notre Europe” think tank for the last seven years, and is considered very close to U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, also a Portuguese Socialist early in his political career.
Isaacs was eliminated in early rounds of voting, and Vitorino won by acclamation over runner-up Laura Thompson of Costa Rica, currently an IOM deputy director-general who was vying to become the agency’s first woman chief.
The move marks a searing rejection of the U.S. candidate just as the Trump administration has been retreating from or rebuffing international institutions — including two others based in Geneva: Earlier this month, the United States pulled out of the U.N.’s Human Rights Council, and Trump has recently criticized the World Trade Organization as “unfair” to the U.S.