New UNODC Executive Director Appointed

UN Secretary-General appointed Ms. Ghada Fathi Waly of Egypt as Executive Director of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime

Vienna International Centre

The Vienna International Centre (VIC) is the campus and building complex hosting the United Nations Office at Vienna (photo taken in 2011) – Licence: CC

At the end of last year, UN Secretary General appointed Ghada Fathi Waly as the first female and first non-European executive director of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC). Ms. Waly will also serve as head of the UN Office at Vienna. She succeeds Yuri Fedotov of the Russian Federation in both roles.

Ghada Fathi WalyWaly brings to the position more than 30 years of experience in the field of sustainable development, poverty reduction and social protection, women and youth empowerment. Egypt’s minister of social solidarity since 2014, Ms. Waly has developed the national anti-drug strategy, led a nationwide drug awareness and prevention campaign among youth and pioneered innovative programs to rehabilitate and reintegrate persons with substance use disorders into society.

Ms Waly’s other previous leadership positions include Managing Director of the Social Fund for Development (2011-2014), Assistant Resident Representative at the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Egypt (2004-2011) and Programme Director of CARE International in Egypt (2000-2004).

This change of leadership is a crucial moment of change for the UNODC; Ms. Waly arrives at a time when multilateralism itself is under threat from a shift in geopolitics towards more nationalistic approaches in many countries, and when the security and development challenges posed by illicit economies, corruption, and terrorism seem only to intensify and diversify. The executive director also inherits a range of political issues over which member states find it difficult to agree on common approaches. Among these are cybercrime, migration, terrorism, civil society engagement and the crucial issue of drug policy reform.


Ms. Waly holds a Masters’ degree in Humanities and Bachelor of Arts in Foreign languages and literature from the Colorado State University. She is fluent in Arabic, English and French and has a working knowledge of Spanish.