The current Swiss ambassador in Washington, Manuel Sager, has been appointed head of the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC). He succeeds Martin Dahinden, who will become ambassador in Washington.
“Sager has long experience in the international, financial policy and economic fields,” said a foreign ministry statement released following his appointment by the cabinet on Wednesday.
The SDC is the foreign ministry office in charge of Switzerland’s international cooperation. Alongside other government units, the SDC is responsible for overall coordination of development activities and cooperation with Eastern Europe, as well as humanitarian aid.
Sager’s appointment comes as the SDC is undergoing a major reform, losing some of its autonomy within the government administration.
Critics fear the agency with an annual budget of CHF2.2 billion ($2.5 billion) could be forced to link its aid and development programmes to foreign policy interests.
Observers say Sager is taking over an already weakenend SDC management and lacks solid experience in development aid matters.
Born in 1955, Sager entered the diplomatic service in 1988 after completing a doctorate in law and a Master of Laws at Duke University Law School in North Carolina.
His international postings include executive director of the London-based European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), Swiss ambassador to Washington and deputy consul-general in New York.
During his career the specialist in international law also worked as head of information at the Swiss embassy in Washington, as well as the Swiss foreign and economics ministries.