American Gets Nod to Direct UN World Food Program

By Jim Burns | July 7, 2008 | 8:28 PM EDT

( - The United Nations Thursday selected American James Morris as executive director of the U.N. World Food Program. There had been speculation that an Australian would be chosen to head the agency, despite the fact that the U.S. gives the World Food Program more money than any other country.

A rejection of Morris would have been the latest in a series of U.S. snubs at the U.N. Last year, the U.S. lost its representation on both the U.N. Human Rights Commission and the U.N. International Narcotics Board.

But after consulting with the 36 member countries of the food program's executive board, U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan and the director of the U.N.'s Food and Agricultural Organization, Jacques Diouf, chose Morris over Australian Bruce Davis. He will succeed Catherine Bertini, whose second five-year term will end in March. Bertini was the first American to head the agency.

Morris is currently the chairman and chief executive officer of IWC Resources Corporation, the parent company of the Indianapolis Water Company. He also serves as president of the Indiana University Board of Trustees.

He was also head of the Lilly Endowment, one of the largest charitable foundations in the United States.

The World Food Program (WFP) was established in 1963. It is the U.N.'s frontline agency in the fight against global hunger. Officials said in 2000, the WFP delivered almost 4 million tons of food aid to an estimated 83 million people in 83 countries.

The United States contributed $424 million to the WFP last year.

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See Earlier Story:

US Spent $424 Million on UN Agency, Now May Lose Leadership Role