Dominican Republic seeks top position in the FAO

The Dominican Republic seeks the chair of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) Council. The candidacy has the backing of the Ministry of Foreign Relations and Ministry of Agriculture.

The ambassador, permanent representative of the DR to the Rome-based agencies of the United Nations (the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, the International Fund for Agricultural Development and the World Food Programme), 51-year old Mario Arvelo seeks to be elected during the 42nd General Conference set for 17 June 2021. It is would be the first time in 28 years that a Latin American and Caribbean representative seeks the position. Other candidates are Zoltan Kalman (Hungary), Hans Hoogeveen (Netherlands).

In his letter announcing his aspirations, Arvelo says that he is committed to good practices and structuring more inclusive meetings beyond the fairness of balanced rotation of nations in the board. The last time a Latin American or Caribbean was elected was in 1995, when Mexican Jose Ramón López Portillo Romano was named to the position.

Arvelo commits to schedule meetings where all countries, including those with smaller delegations, can discuss documents in all the official languages.

He expressed his admiration for the present president of the council, Khalid Mehboob of Pakistan and says he aspires to consolidate Mehboob’s legacy. “This means listening to all members, building bridges and facilitating decision-making by consensus. Common sense tells us that the best solutions are never imposed but result from the collective wisdom of all members, big and small, rich or poor.

If elected as the Independent Chairperson, Arvelo will be appointed for two years, renewable for a further period of two years.

Arvelo has been elected Chairperson of the Committee on World Food Security (CFS), the UN Committee on Agriculture (COAG), the Global Soils Partnership (GSP), the FAO Commission on Finance, Budget and Reform, and the Group of 77 (G77), among other global leadership positions. During his tenure, the Dominican Republic has joined the governing bodies of the three Rome-based United Nations agencies, none of which the country had ever belonged to: the FAO Council, the IFAD Executive Board (at the International Fund for Agricultural Development), and the WFP Executive Board (at the World Food Programme).

Arvelo is the Deputy Chair of the Appeals Committee (with jurisdiction for FAO and WFP) and seats on the CFS Executive Bureau, as well as on three international steering committees: for the UN Decade of Action on Family Farming, the Mountain Partnership, and the World Banana Forum, in addition to being a founding member of the multidisciplinary platform “Observatory on the costs of sustainable production and the distribution of value in the export banana industry.”

Arvelo is a graduate of Political Science with majors in International Relations and Comparative Government & Politics, and a minor in Political Theory, Northeastern University, Boston Fulbright Scholar; Licenciado en Derecho (Juridical Science/Law) at the Pontificia Universidad Católica Madre y Maestra, Santo Domingo.

Prior to being posted as ambassador to FAO, he was assigned as Minister Counsellor and Deputy Chief of Mission Embassy of the Dominican Republic in Chile; Counsellor and Chargé d’Affaires ad interim Embassy of the Dominican Republic in Japan and Deputy to the Chair of the OAS Permanent Council in Washington, D.C.

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Mario Arvelo

28 April 2021