On 9 March 2015, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon announced the appointment of Stephen O'Brien of the United Kingdom as Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator. Mr. O’Brien succeeds Valerie Amos of the United Kingdom, to whom the Secretary-General has expressed his utmost gratitude for her outstanding services to the United Nations and the humanitarian community, having tirelessly advocated for the world’s people in greatest need.
He brings to the position extensive experience in multilateral diplomacy and advocacy, together with international leadership and management, in the coordination of collective action within the humanitarian community, notably in the fight against malaria and neglected tropical diseases, and his significant contribution to his country achieving the United Nations-endorsed target of 0.7 per cent of gross national income on official development assistance.
He was a Member of Parliament for Eddisbury, a Privy Counsellor, as well as the Prime Minister’s Envoy and United Kingdom’s Special Representative for the Sahel since 2012, working intensively with international partners seeking to secure peace in Mali and neighbouring countries through the integrated strategy of security, governance, humanitarian action, resilience and development.
In addition to his leading management experience of large, complex organizations (he was a Senior Executive at global industrial manufacturer, the former FTSE100 Redland PLC), he is expected to bring innovative and strategic ideas as a strong humanitarian advocate with more than 20 years of experience in international development and health care, notably as Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for International Development (2010–2012), Shadow Minister for Health and Social Care (2005–2010), and in numerous voluntary roles, Founder and Chairman of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Malaria and Neglected Tropical Diseases (since 2004), Chairman of the non-governmental organization Malaria Consortium (2006–2010), Director-Trustee of the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine and of the Innovative Vector Control Consortium.
Mr. O’Brien 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-World Health Organization Roll Back Malaria Partnership and as Patron of Malaria No More UK.
Born in the United Republic of Tanzania, he holds a master of arts degree with honours in law from Emmanuel College, Cambridge University. In the 1980s, he qualified and practised as a solicitor with a leading global firm, Freshfields Deringer Bruckhaus. He is married with three children.