Anthony Lake, distinguished professor in practice of diplomacy in the School of Foreign Service, was nominated last week to be the next head of UNICEF.
The news of Lake’s nomination came in a letter written by U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice and shared with the Associated Press. Rice listed Lake’s qualifications for the position as “extraordinary experience, strategic vision and energy to UNICEF’s essential work.” She also stressed Lake’s commitment to the values central to UNICEF’s mission, including children’s rights, protection and education.
“[His] global reputation as person of unsurpassed intelligence and uncommon decency will elevate the image of UNICEF. That he is so highly regarded by President Obama and so many leaders in the U.S. Congress will further strengthen UNICEF’s long-term mission,” said Thomas Melia, director of research at the Institute for the Study of Diplomacy.
Lake has served on the board of directors of the U.S. Fund for UNICEF for nine years, including one term as chair from 2004 to 2007. He is now a permanent honorary member of the board.
Sam Dulik (SFS ’13), a student in Lake’s proseminar last semester and a columnist for THE HOYA, credits Lake’s nomination to more than his résumé.
“His passionate commitment to human rights, from Bosnia to Africa to nuclear weapons elimination, equips him with the credentials to make a phenomenal leader of UNICEF,” Dulik said. “[Lake] is the unique public servant who has a great brain and a greater heart.”
According to AP, Rice gave several examples of Lake’s humanitarian work in her letter, such as roles he has held as chair of the Marshall Legacy Institute, an organization that aims to eliminate land mines, director of International Voluntary Services, a non-governmental organization that coordinates short-term and long-term volunteer work, a member of the U.N. Panel of High-Level Personalities on African Development and a board member for both Save the Children and the International Committee of the Red Cross.
“It seemed that every other weekend he was off in Haiti or Sarajevo doing humanitarian work,” said another of Lake’s students, Sean Kelly (SFS ’13). “I always saw Lake as an unbelievably kind, open and generous man.”
Renata Moniaga (SFS ’11), president of the Georgetown chapter of UNICEF, agrees that Lake is a good candidate for the position.
“I think it’s great that [Lake] is being considered for the position. He’s had a long and respected presence in the international development field,” Moniaga said. “Even on campus, he’s been very supportive of the UNICEF cause and has always been willing to help our group whenever he can.”
Lake will not be officially appointed to the position of executive director of UNICEF until April 30, when current Executive Director Ann Venemen’s five-year term expires. UNICEF has traditionally appointed an American as its leader, since the United States contributes more to the organization than any of the other 190 countries in which it operates.
Dulik and Kelly both agree that when Lake is appointed, Georgetown will lose an extremely valuable professor. Lake has taught at Georgetown since 1997.
“His nomination to UNICEF only confirms his importance in the role of international development,” Kelly said. “It makes me feel incredibly fortunate and proud to have been taught by such a remarkable man.”
Lake’s work with UNICEF comprises only a part of his foreign policy experience. From 1993 to 1997, Lake served as National Security Advisor to President Clinton. He was also director of policy planning for President Carter from 1977 to 1981, White House special envoy from 1998 to 2000 and a foreign policy adviser to President Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign.
Lake began his career in the U.S. Foreign Service in 1962, serving as a foreign service officer until 1970. In 1969, he accompanied President Nixon’s National Security Adviser Henry Kissinger to an early secret meeting with North Vietnamese negotiators in Paris.