World Food Programme board welcomes Cindy McCain as new leader

Cindy McCain appointed as new Executive Director at WFP

 ROME - The World Food Programme Executive Board has warmly welcomed the appointment of the new Executive Director Cindy Hensley McCain of the United States, a statement said.

 The decision on the appointment was made officially by UN Secretary-General António Guterres together with the Director-General of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations QU Dongyu, which followed the previous consultations with the WFP Board in a special session held at WFP’s headquarters in Rome. In practice the United States as top donor to WFP regards the ED's job as a U.S. fiefdom, an attitude that the UNSG and China recognised was unanswerable in the context of the Un spoils system.

 The Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Poland and President of the Executive Board of WFP, Artur Andrzej Pollok said: "McCain takes over as head of the World Food Programme at a moment when the world confronts the most serious food security crisis in modern history and this leadership role has never been more important. We wish her well and can assure her she will have the full support of the Executive Board."

 Ms McCain is currently serving as the Permanent Representative of the United States to the UN agencies in Rome -- the Food and Agriculture Organization, the International Fund for Agricultural Development, and the World Food Programme. She is the former Chair of the Board of Trustees of the McCain Institute for International Leadership at Arizona State University.

 She also served on the Board of Directors of Project C.U.R.E., CARE, Operation Smile, the Halo Trust, and the advisory boards of Too Small To Fail and Warriors and Quiet Waters, Operations Smile. Ms McCain holds an Undergraduate degree in Education and a Master’s Degree in Special Education, both from the University of Southern California. She is the widow of the late U.S. Senator John McCain, who died in 2018 after a long fight with a brain tumour.

 Ms McCain will step in to succeed David Beasley as Executive Director atop the WFP Rome headquarters building on the airport road when the year-year long second term of the former south Carolina governor comes to an end, on April 4. Having collected a Nobel prize for WFP, Mr Beasley is expected to return to politics in the United States and or a senior position in a future Republican administration though whether his erstwhile support for Donald Trump continues remains to be seen.

 When Mr Beasley was appointed other member states such as Germany were outraged that the agency continues to be regarded as a U.S. fiefdom. This time it was evidently felt that it was not worth the effort of opposing the UN spoils system, under which Security Council members carve up top jobs at specialised agencies. In this case China supported McCain on condition that the United States not oppose a second term for Qu Dongyu at FAO despite concern over what is seen as his pro-Russian policies, diplomatic sources said.

 Mr Beasley will be a hard act for Ms McCain to follow, the sources added. A gifted fundraiser, Mr Beasley was also popular with staff and fought an entrenched, partly successful battle to wrest power from the old guard at WFP management as well as cracking down on sexual harassment and introducing a much praised new health insurance plan for staff. His internal management was seen as less strong, with his first chief of staff bowing out after being criticised for using WFP credit cards to buy plane tickets for his wife.