Geneva (AFP): The UN's International Organization for Migration chooses its next director general on Monday, with the current IOM chief Antonio Vitorino being challenged for the job by his deputy Amy Pope.

Former Portuguese government minister Vitorino has been running the UN's migration agency since 2018; US lawyer Pope is a former White House figure who has been at the Geneva-based IOM since 2021.

Here are profiles of the two candidates:


Antonio Vitorino
The 66-year-old is a former deputy prime minister of Portugal who has held the top IOM post for the past five years.

A politician and a lawyer, Vitorino was Portugal's defence minister and deputy prime minister from 1995 to 1997 in the government of Antonio Guterres, who is now the UN secretary-general.

Vitorino was then the European Commissioner for Justice and Home Affairs from 1999 to 2004.

IOM member states chose him to lead the organisation in 2018, making him only the second non-American to lead the agency in seven decades.

"I'm pretty confident that my work deserves to be supported and continuous," Vitorino told AFP in March.

He said he was counting on "very strong support from the European countries" and "strong encouragement" from nations in other regions.

Born in Lisbon, Vitorino holds a master's degree in law and political science from the Lisbon Law School.

Standing for the Socialist Party, he was first elected to the Portuguese parliament in 1980 and held a junior government role.

After the Socialists lost power in 1985, he became the member of the government of Macau in charge of administration and justice from 1986 to 1987. The Chinese city was a Portuguese colony until 1999.

He served as a judge of the Portuguese Constitutional Court from 1989 to 1994.

Returning to the Portuguese government as the defence minister, he resigned in 1997 under suspicion of tax evasion, but was cleared of the charges.

He then joined the European Commission, the European Union's cabinet government.

"During these years Antonio Vitorino crafted leadership, management and negotiations skills at the highest level and developed in-depth knowledge of global and national migration contexts and related policy challenges," the IOM says in his bio.

Married with two sons, he speaks Portuguese, English, French and Spanish.


Amy Pope
The US lawyer, 49, is the IOM's deputy director general for management and reform, one of two deputies working under Vitorino.

Pope, who has spent most of her career focused on migration issues, including within the administration of former US president Barack Obama, started working at IOM in September 2021.

Her roles include supervising ethics, staff security, financial management, human resources, information technology and legal affairs.

"Amy Pope is a transformative leader in international migration policy with demonstrated experience improving complex organisations," the IOM says.

"She has extensive technical knowledge of migration challenges that span the breadth of IOM's engagement, experience managing large-scale budgets and operations, and is an innovative and strategic thinker with a proven ability to translate policies into actionable steps."

Pope was US President Joe Biden's senior advisor on migration after he took office in 2021, having served under Obama as senior director on trans-border security (2013-2015) and then deputy homeland security advisor (2015-2017).

She came up with strategies for the White House on managing migration surges, human trafficking and responding to Zika and Ebola outbreaks. Pope has also worked with the Chatham House international affairs think-tank in London.

Pope graduated from Duke University School of Law in North Carolina. She is married and has two daughters.

She told AFP in March that it was "a bit awkward" to be running against her boss but felt the agency needed a new vision.

"It's not ideal in some ways, but it's really about the future of the organisation," she said.

"We're still kind of stuck in old ways of looking at migration," said Pope, calling for a broader focus on the impacts of climate change on migration.