Ban appoints seasoned British humanitarian advocate to head up UN relief wing

9 March 2015

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon announced today the appointment of Stephen O’Brien of the United Kingdom as Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) and Emergency Relief Coordinator, the UN Spokesperson’s office announced today.

Mr. O’Brien succeeds Valerie Amos, also of the United Kingdom, and the Secretary-General expressed his utmost gratitude to Ms. Amos for her outstanding services to the United Nations and the humanitarian community, having tirelessly advocated for the world’s people in greatest need.

In a statement, the Secretary-General’s spokesperson said that Mr. O’Brien brings extensive experience in multilateral diplomacy and advocacy to the post, together with international leadership and management.

Much of that, it noted, came in the coordination of collective action within the humanitarian community, notably in the fight against malaria and neglected tropical diseases, as well as in his significant contribution to the United Kingdom’s efforts to achieve the United Nations-endorsed target of contributing 0.7 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP) to official development assistance (ODA).

As a strong humanitarian advocate with more than 20 years of experience in international development and health care, Mr. O’Brien is expected to bring innovative and strategic ideas to the role. A member of the United Kingdom Parliament, notable among Mr. O’Brien’s posts are his time as Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for International Development between 2010 and 2012, and his founding and chairing of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Malaria & Neglected Tropical Diseases, since 2004.

He served as the United Kingdom Prime Minister’s Envoy and Special Representative for the Sahel since 2012, chaired the Malaria Consortium NGO between 2006 and 2010, and is Director-Trustee of the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine. In addition to his political and non-governmental roles, Mr. O’Brien has also served as a Senior Executive at global industrial manufacturer, Redland.

Recently he won the 2014 Champions Action Award for his leadership in mobilizing the campaigns against malaria and neglected tropical diseases, having undertaken multiple pro bono civil society engagements, notably as Global Advocate for the United Nations/WHO “Roll Back Malaria Partnership,” and Patron of Malaria No More UK.

Mr. O’Brien, a qualified and formerly practising solicitor, holds a degree in Law from Cambridge University.


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