The Advisory Board on Human Security (ABHS) is an independent advisory group comprised of up to 10 members, approved by the UN Secretary-General, with a deep commitment to the advancement of human security.

The ABHS was established to advise the Secretary-General on:

  • The strategic orientation of the UN Trust Fund for Human Security (UNTFHS);
  • Methods to increase the impact of programmes and activities funded by the UNTFHS;
  • Ways to promote and disseminate the human security approach and deepen its understanding and acceptance worldwide, including application of human security to key global priorities.

The ABHS also provides strategic vision and guidance to the UN Human Security Unit in its management of the UNTFHS. In this regard, the ABHS:

  • Provides advice on the Guidelines of the UNTFHS and periodic revisions;
  • Recommends methods for promoting the impact, ensuring transparency, and raising the visibility of UNTFHS programmes and other activities;
  • Reviews the performance and management of the UNTFHS, including reporting and evaluating the results achieved.

Current members of the ABHS are:

KNUT VOLLEBAEK, CHAIR

Ambassador Knut Vollebaek is a former Norwegian Ambassador to the United States of America (2001-2007) and former Minister of Foreign Affairs of Norway (1997-2000). Since 2013, he has headed the Norwegian Government’s Commission on Norwegian Travelers and served as a Commissioner on the International Commission of Missing Persons.

Ambassador Knut Vollebaek is a former Norwegian Ambassador to the United States of America (2001-2007) and former Minister of Foreign Affairs of Norway (1997-2000). Since 2013, he has headed the Norwegian Government’s Commission on Norwegian Travelers and served as a Commissioner on the International Commission of Missing Persons.

During his diplomatic and political career, he has also served as Assistant Secretary General, Ministry of Foreign Affairs (1994-1997); Director General, Department of Bilateral Co-operation (1994-1994); Norwegian Ambassador to the Central American States, based in Costa Rica (1991-1993); Deputy Minister (State Secretary) of Foreign Affairs (1989-1990); Director of UN Affairs, Ministry of Foreign Affairs (1986-1989); Norwegian Delegate to the UN General Assembly (1982-1983 and 1986-1988); and held diplomatic assignments in India, Spain and Zimbabwe.Mr. Vollebaek has also held a number of international positions, including Commissioner of the International Commission on Missing Persons (2013-); Primus inter Pares of the Panel of Eminent Persons on Strengthening of the Effectiveness of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (2005); Chairman-in-Office of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (1999); Chairman of the Council of the Baltic Sea States (1999-2000); and Chairman of the Barents Euro-Arctic Council (1997-1998).

He obtained his M.Sc. in Economics from the Norwegian School of Economics and Business Administration, Bergen in 1972; honorary Doctor of Laws, Honoris Causa, St. Olaf College, Minnesota, USA in 2003; and, honorary Doctor of Humane Letters, Honoris Causa, Concordia College, Minnesota, USA in 2003. He received Commander of the Royal Norwegian Order of St. Olav in 2000 and decorations from Costa Rica, Estonia, France, Germany, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Moldova, the Netherlands, and Spain.

Mariana Costa Checa

Ms. Mariana Costa Checa is the CEO and Co-Founder of Laboratoria, a social enterprise that gives young women from low-income backgrounds in Latin America careers in technology. Graduates go on to have three times the average income than they did at their previous employment, transforming their lives and those of their families.

Ms. Mariana Costa Checa is the CEO and Co-Founder of Laboratoria, a social enterprise that gives young women from low-income backgrounds in Latin America careers in technology. Graduates go on to have three times the average income than they did at their previous employment, transforming their lives and those of their families.

Before becoming a social entrepreneur, Mariana worked for organizations such as TechnoServe and the Organization of American States in international development programs throughout Latin America, helping expand access to civil registration services in underserved communities.

Ms. Costa Checa has worked on development projects throughout the region and was named one of the most innovative people in Peru under 35 by MIT and one of the world’s most influential women by the BBC.

She holds a BSc in International Relations from the London School of Economics and a Master’s in Public Administration from Columbia University in New York.

Michelle Gyles-McDonnough

Ms. Michelle Gyles-McDonnough is the Director, Sustainable Development Unit, Executive Office of the Secretary-General at the United Nations, New York. Throughout her career, Ms. Gyles-McDonnough has practiced privately as a lawyer, and served as advisor to the Secretary-General of the Organization of American States.

Ms. Michelle Gyles-McDonnough is the Director, Sustainable Development Unit, Executive Office of the Secretary-General at the United Nations, New York. Throughout her career, Ms. Gyles-McDonnough has practiced privately as a lawyer, served as advisor to the Secretary-General of the Organization of American States

Ms. Gyles-McDonnough has deep development experience within UNDP, including as Chief of UNDP’s sub-regional facility for the Caribbean, UN Resident Coordinator for Barbados and the OECS, Resident Coordinator for Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei Darussalam and as Deputy Assistant Administrator and Deputy Regional Director Designate for Asia and the Pacific.

Ms. Gyles-McDonnough holds a law degree from Columbia University School of Law, with honours in international and foreign law, a Masters in Public Administration from the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. She received her undergraduate degree at Bryn Mawr College in Pennsylvania.

Shuvai Busuman Nyoni

Ms. Shuvai Busuman Nyoni is the Executive Director of the African Leadership Centre (ALC), Nairobi, Kenya, and a gender, peace and security practitioner and researcher. The ALC is a research and training initiative that seeks to contribute to Africa’s long term social and economic security and development terrain by training and mentoring the next generation of African leaders as well as through rigorous research and knowledge generation.

Ms. Shuvai Busuman Nyoni is the Executive Director of the African Leadership Centre (ALC), Nairobi, Kenya, and a gender, peace and security practitioner and researcher. The ALC is a research and training initiative that seeks to contribute to Africa’s long term social and economic security and development terrain by training and mentoring the next generation of African leaders as well as through rigorous research and knowledge generation.

Prior to joining the ALC, Ms. Nyoni worked as the Director of Interventions for the Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation (CSVR) in Johannesburg South Africa where she led the CSVR policy engagement with the African Union.

She has worked extensively with a range of regional and national policy makers, civil society actors and academics in post-conflict and transitional countries on the African continent. Through her work Ms. Nyoni has engaged with issues pertaining to post-conflict reconstruction, governance, social and economic justice, transitional justice, reconciliation, and national and community healing. Over the years her work has also involved investigation and documentation of sexual and gender-based violence in conflict settings.

Catherine Russell

On 1 February 2022, Ms. Catherine Russell became the eighth Executive Director of UNICEF and the fourth woman to lead the organization it its 75-year history. From 2020 to 2022, Ms. Russell served in the US government as Assistant to the President and Director of the White House Office of Presidential Personnel.

On 1 February 2022, Ms. Catherine Russell became the eighth Executive Director of UNICEF and the fourth woman to lead the organization it its 75-year history. 

From 2020 to 2022, Ms. Russell served in the US government as Assistant to the President and Director of the White House Office of Presidential Personnel. She previously served from 2013 to 2017 as Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women’s Issues at the U.S. Department of State. In that post, she integrated women’s issues across all elements of U.S. foreign policy, represented the United States in more than 45 countries, and worked with foreign governments, multilateral organizations and civil society. She was the principal architect of the ground-breaking “U.S. Global Strategy to Empower Adolescent Girls.” 

Previously, Ms. Russell served as Deputy Assistant to the President at the White House under President Barack Obama, Senior Advisor on International Women’s Issues on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Associate Deputy Attorney General at the Department of Justice, and Staff Director of the Senate Judiciary Committee. Before re-entering government service in 2020, she taught at the Harvard Kennedy School as an Institute of Politics Fellow. She also served as the board co-chair of the Women’s Foreign Policy Group, as a board member of Women for Women International, as a member of the Sesame Street Advisory Board, as a member of the non-profit organization, KIVA Advisory Council, and as a member of the Thomson Reuters Foundation’s Trust Women initiative. 

Ms. Russell holds a Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy, magna cum laude, from Boston College and a Juris Doctor degree from the George Washington University Law School. 

Achim Steiner

Mr. Achim Steiner became UNDP Administrator on 19 June 2017 and will serve for a term of four years. Mr. Steiner is also the Vice-Chair of the UN Sustainable Development Group, which unites 40 entities of the UN system that work to support sustainable development.

Mr. Achim Steiner became UNDP Administrator on 19 June 2017 and will serve for a term of four years.  Mr. Steiner is also the Vice-Chair of the UN Sustainable Development Group, which unites 40 entities of the UN system that work to support sustainable development. 

Over nearly three decades, Mr. Steiner has been a global leader on sustainable development, climate resilience and international cooperation. He has worked tirelessly to champion sustainability, economic growth and equality for the vulnerable, and has been a vocal advocate for the Sustainable Development Goals. 

Prior to joining UNDP, he was Director of the Oxford Martin School and Professorial Fellow of Balliol College, University of Oxford. Mr. Steiner has served across the United Nations system, looking at global challenges from both a humanitarian and a development perspective. He led the United Nations Environment Programme (2006-2016), helping governments invest in clean technologies and renewable energy. He was also Director-General of the United Nations Office at Nairobi.  

Mr. Steiner graduated in Philosophy, Politics and Economics (MA) from Worcester College, Oxford University and holds an MA from the University of London/School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS). 

Yukio Takasu

Mr. Yukio Takasu has been appointed by the UN Secretary-General as Special Adviser on Human Security successively since 2010. Mr. Takasu leads the UN’s advocacy efforts on mainstreaming human security, including advancing the implementation of the 2030 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals. 

Mr.  Yukio Takasu has been appointed by the UN Secretary-General as Special Adviser on Human Security successively since 2010. Mr. Takasu leads the UN’s advocacy efforts on mainstreaming human security, including advancing the implementation of the 2030 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals. 

Ambassador Takasu has a long career related to the United Nations activities in the Government of Japan, the United Nations and as an academic. He has held several senior diplomatic positions, including Permanent Representative of Japan to the United Nations (2007-10), Permanent Representative of Japan to International Organizations in Vienna (2001-05), Director-General of the Multilateral Cooperation Department in Tokyo (2000-01). In this capacity, Mr. Takasu assisted in hosting the G8 Okinawa Summit and he was instrumental in promoting Japan’s initiative for human security and launching the international Commission for Human Security. At the United Nations, he held senior positions, including Assistant Secretary-General, Controller of the United Nations (1993-97) and Under-Secretary-General for Management (2012-2017). 

Mr. Takasu also serves as Vice-Chairperson of the Japan Committee for UNICEF and President of the “Human Security Forum”, a Japanese non-profit organization. Mr. Takasu is a visiting professor at Ritsumeikan University, and has held academic positions at Harvard University, the University of Tokyo, and the Graduate University for Policy Studies.  Mr. Takasu was educated at the University of Tokyo (Faculty of Law) and Oxford University (Merton College). Recent publications include “SDGs and Japan—Human Security Index of Japan for leaving no one behind” (in Japanese). 

Akihiko Tanaka

Dr. Akihiko Tanaka is President of the National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies (GRIPS).  Before assuming his current position, he had been Professor of International Politics at the Institute for Advanced Studies on Asia, The University of Tokyo, for many years. 

Dr. Akihiko Tanaka is President of the National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies (GRIPS).  Before assuming his current position, he had been Professor of International Politics at the Institute for Advanced Studies on Asia, The University of Tokyo, for many years.  

Dr. Tanaka served as President of Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) from April 2012 to September 2015 and was also Executive Vice President of the University of Tokyo (2009-2011). He is Chairman of the Board, Japan for UNHCR and a Distinguished Fellow at the JICA Research Institute.  He obtained his bachelor’s degree in International Relations at the University of Tokyo in 1977 and Ph.D. in Political Science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1981.  

He has numerous books and articles on world politics and security issues in Japanese and English including The New Middle Ages: The World System in the 21st Century (Tokyo: The International House of Japan, 2002) and Japan in Asia: Post-Cold-War Diplomacy (Tokyo: Japan Publishing Industry Foundation for Culture, 2017). He received the Medal with Purple Ribbon in 2012 for his academic achievements.