Guterres appoints ex-diplomat of India as technology envoy

Arul Louis(IANS)-

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Friday appointed former Indian diplomat Amandeep Singh Gill as his envoy on technology to coordinate programs for international digital cooperation.

Guterres’ spokesperson Stephane Dujarric announced the appointment calling Gill a “thought leader on digital technology”.

In other high-level appointments from South Asia at the UN, Pakistani diplomat Navid Hanif was named the assistant secretary-general for economic development, while Bangladesh’s permanent representative to UN, Rabab Fatima, was appointed as the high representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States (UN-OHRLLS).

Gill, who joined the Indian Foreign Service in 1992, has been India’s permanent representative to the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva.

He is now the chief executive officer of the International Digital Health and Artificial Intelligence Research Collaborative (I-DAIR) project at the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies in Geneva.

He has also served at the UN as the executive director and co-lead of the Secretary-General’s high-level panel on digital cooperation.

Dujarric said that Gill “helped secure high-impact international consensus recommendations on regulating artificial intelligence (Al) in lethal autonomous weapon systems in 2017 and 2018, the draft Al ethics recommendation of UNESCO in 2020, and a new international platform on digital health and Al”.

“He brings to the position a deep knowledge of digital technologies coupled with a solid understanding of how to leverage the digital transformation responsibly and inclusively for progress on the Sustainable Development Goals,” Dujarric added.

Gill, who graduated from the Panjab University in Chandigarh in BTech in electronics, has a doctorate in nuclear learning in multilateral forums from the King’s College in London.

According to the UN, the envoy on technology “coordinates the implementation of the Secretary-General’s roadmap on digital cooperation and will advance work towards the global digital compact proposed in the common agenda, in close consultation with the member states, technology industry, private companies, civil society, and other stakeholders”.

Hanif, who has served at Pakistan’s UN mission, is a veteran official of the UN. He is now the director of the Financing for Sustainable Development Office.

He has worked as the director of the Office of ECOSOC Support and Coordination and as the head of the Strategic Planning Unit and did a stint in the executive office of the Secretary-General as a member of the team for the 2005 World Summit.

He succeeds Elliot Harris of Trinidad and Tobago.

Former director-general of the Bangladesh Foreign Ministry, Fatima has been the ambassador to Japan and served in diplomatic missions in Kolkata, Geneva, New York and Beijing.

She has been the head of human rights at the Commonwealth Secretariat in London and the regional advisor for climate change and migration at the International Organisation for Migration.