Elizabeth Mary Spehar

Assistant Secretary-General for Peacebuilding Support

Department of Political and Peacebuilding Affairs (DPPA)

United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres announced on 18 January 2022 the appointment of Elizabeth Spehar of Canada as Assistant Secretary-General for Peacebuilding Support in the Department of Political and Peacebuilding Affairs (DPPA). 
Ms. Spehar succeeds Oscar Fernandez-Taranco of Argentina to whom the Secretary-General is deeply grateful for his dedication and contribution. 

With 35 years of experience in international and political affairs, Ms. Spehar has worked in United Nations headquarters and in the field, leading political, development, peacebuilding and conflict prevention initiatives.  Most recently, since 2016, she was the Secretary-General’s Special Representative and Head of the United Nations Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP), also serving as Deputy to the Secretary-General’s Special Adviser on Cyprus. 

Previously, Ms. Spehar was Director of the Policy and Mediation Division in the former Department of Political Affairs (DPA), where she worked on policy and operational matters related to conflict prevention, mediation, peacebuilding and gender mainstreaming.  Prior to this, she was the Director for the Americas and Europe Division and Director of the Europe Division in DPA, engaging extensively on key political issues facing the region.  She also served briefly as Interim Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of UNFICYP in 2008. 

Before joining the United Nations, Ms. Spehar was a senior official with the Organization of American States for more than 12 years, working to promote democracy and develop the Organization’s dialogue and conflict resolution instruments. 

Ms. Spehar holds a Bachelor of Arts with honours from Queen’s University in Canada, a master’s degree in international affairs from Carleton University’s Norman Paterson School of International Affairs, also in Canada, and a Diplôme d’Etudes Supérieures from the University of Pau in France.  She speaks English, French, Spanish, Portuguese and Croatian.