Mirjana Spoljaric Egger elected as ICRC’s first female president 

Mirjana Spoljaric Egger, a career diplomat, will become the ICRC's first female president in 2022. (Credit: ICRC)

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) announced on Thursday that it had elected as its new president Mirjana Spoljaric Egger – the first woman to lead the humanitarian organisation.

Peter Maurer will take a bow in October 2022 after 10 years of presidency. The Swiss career diplomat will be succeeded by Spoljaric Egger, who is currently the assistant secretary general of the UN Development Programme’s regional bureau for Europe and the Commonwealth of Independent States and was previously head of UN relations at the Swiss Federal Office of Foreign Affairs. Since its creation in 1963, the organisation has been headed by 14 male presidents.

“It is a great honour and a great responsibility to be elected president of an organisation which I have long admired for its inspiring and vital global mission,” Spoljaric Egger said in a statement released by the ICRC. “I will work hard to embody the humanitarian values that the organisation is built on and relies on to reach communities affected by conflict and violence.”

Commenting on her appointment, Maurer said that she would “bring strategic vision, strong international experience and an extensive diplomatic background to the role.”

Born in Thun, Maurer was elected ICRC’s president in 2012 to succeed Jakob Kellenberger, who served for three consecutive terms. Maurer had faced criticism in 2014 for joining the Foundation Board of the World Economic Forum (WEF), a private business-led organisation.

After years of silence, he addressed the criticism in an interview with the RTS by saying that “that partnerships with the economy, with other actors in the humanitarian system are important. The ICRC has taken the necessary precautions to manage them responsibly.”