Secretariat

In the Picture from left to right - Imran Khushnud Shah, George Okoth-Obbo, Smita Kenkare, UN Secteraty-General, Rosemary Addo Yirenkyi, Giovanni Cassani, Greta Zeender, Mark Yarnell

To assist the Panel in delivering on their mandate, a Secretariat was established under the leadership of Assistant Secretary-General Mr. George Okoth-Obbo. The Secretariat is structured in three pillars: Research & Outcomes, Stakeholder Engagement & Coordination, and Administrative & Organization.

The Secretariat supports the Panel through the following activities:

  • Provide substantive support to the Panel, including through research, expert advice, background papers and briefing materials to support its deliberations;
  • Provide logistical and administrative support to the work of the Panel, in particular planning and organizing meetings of the Panel, its field visits and stakeholder consultations;
  • Facilitate the Panel’s communication, engagement and consultations with a broad range of stakeholders, including Member States, UN entities, IDPs and wider displacement-affected communities, the UN Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights of IDPs, regional and sub-regional organizations, international and regional financial institutions, civil society, academia, the private sector and ongoing initiatives and platforms such as the GP20 Plan of Action, the Platform on Disaster Displacement, relevant data centres and country-specific durable solutions initiatives;
  • Coordinate the activities of the Expert Advisory Group and logistically support their engagement with the Panel;
  • Prepare a draft of the Panel’s report to the UN Secretary-General, consolidating key findings and recommendations, based on the guidance and inputs from the Panel;
  • Manage resources for the Secretariat and High-Level Panel;
  • Develop and implement a communications strategy targeting both relevant stakeholders and the general public to ensure effective dissemination of the Panel report and its key findings and messages to relevant audiences; and
  • Perform other duties as required for the completion of the Panel’s objectives and activities.

 

Our Team

Biography of the Head of the Secretariat

Mr. George Okoth-Obbo is presently Assistant Secretary-General, Secretary and Head of the Secretariat of the United Nations Secretary-General’s High-Level Panel on Internal Displacement, a position to which he was appointed by the Secretary-General in December 2019. Mr Okoth-Obbo was at that stage serving as UNHCR’s Assistant High Commissioner for Operations, a position to which he was appointed in February 2015. His UNHCR career started when he joined the Organization in 1984 and served first as an Associate Protection Officer in Botswana from 1984 to 1987. His next appointment was as 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 and held this position until 1991 when he became 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 Pretoria, South Africa, first as Senior Policy Officer (1998 – 2000) and then as Deputy Director (2000-2001) in the UNHCR Regional Directorate for Southern Africa. He later served as UNHCR Representative in Zambia (2001) and then also as Representative for Kenya from 2001 to 2006. In the latter year, he took up the position of Director of the Organization’s Division of International Protection Services at its Headquarters in Geneva. He held this position until being appointed as the Director of the Regional Bureau for Africa, also at UNHCR Headquarters, a position he took up on 01 July 2009. He served in this position until he was appointed as the Organization’s Assistant High Commissioner for Operations.

Mr. Okoth-Obbo is a national of Uganda. He graduated with a Bachelor 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.