María Emma Mejía Vélez, Permanent Representative of Colombia to the United Nations, was elected to chair the Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian, and Cultural) on 13 June 2016 (see Press Release GA/11791).
Ms. Vélez has been Permanent Representative since February 2014, prior to which she served as Secretary-General of the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR), based in Quito, Ecuador. Between 2003 and 2011, she was Chief Executive Officer of the Barefoot Foundation, founded by Colombian singer Shakira, and served on its Board of Directors until 2014.
A former journalist with broad international experience, Ms. Vélez was appointed Minister for Foreign Affairs in 1996, and was a member of the Government of Colombia’s Advisory Committee on Foreign Affairs since 1999. She also served as Minister for Education in 1995, and as Ambassador to Spain from 1993 to 1995 — the first woman ever to hold that position.
Between 1990 and 1993, Ms. Vélez was a Presidential Adviser to President César Gaviria.
She was educated at the Universidad del Valle and the Universidad Pontificia Bolivariana.
* This supersedes Press Release BIO/4565 of 25 February 2014.