Special Adviser of the Secretary-General
on the Responsibility to Protect

Portrait of George Okoth-Obbo
George Okoth-Obbo
UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe

George Okoth-Obbo is the Special Adviser of the Secretary-General on the Responsibility to Protect (R2P). He was appointed to this position in December 2021 and assumed his roles on 1 February 2022 upon completing an assignment as Assistant Secretary General, Secretary and Head of the Secretariat of the United Nations Secretary-General’s High-Level Panel on Internal Displacement. He was appointed to the latter position in December 2019 when he was at that stage serving as UNHCR’s Assistant High Commissioner for Operations. His UNHCR career started in 1984 as an Associate Protection Officer in Botswana before becoming Protection Officer in the UNHCR Operation in Swaziland (1987) and later in Lesotho also as Protection Officer (1987-1989). He was then reassigned to UNHCR Headquarters in Geneva in 1989 as Senior External Relations Officer before becoming Senior Legal Adviser in the Organization’s Regional Bureau for Africa. In 1995, he was reassigned to Ethiopia as Assistant Representative for Protection. In 1998, he moved to the UNHCR Regional Directorate for Southern Africa in Pretoria first as its Senior Policy Officer (1998 – 2000) and then as Deputy Director (2000-2001). He then served as UNHCR Representative in Zambia (2001) and after that as Representative for Kenya from 2001 to 2006. In the latter year, he took up the position of Director of the Division of International Protection Services at UNHCR Headquarters which he held until being appointed as the Director of the Regional Bureau for Africa with effect from July 2009. He served in this position until he was appointed as Assistant High Commissioner for Operations in February 2015.

Mr. Okoth-Obbo is a national of Uganda. He graduated with a Batchelor of Laws degree from Makerere University in his country, holds a Diploma in Legal Practice from the Law Development Centre in the same country and earned a Master of Laws from the University of Nairobi in Kenya. Before joining UNHCR, he was a Lecturer in law, respectively, at the said Law Development Centre and the Faculty of Law at Makerere University. Mr. Okoth-Obbo is married to Esther Okoth-Obbo. They have two children.

Previous Special Advisers

  • Karen Smith (2019-2021)
  • Ivan Šimonović (2016-2018)
  • Jennifer Welsh (2013-2015)
  • Edward Luck (2008-2012)