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Ebola, Peace and Security

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  • Monday 10 November 2014
  • Speaker: Karin Landgren, Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General to Liberia
  • Chair: Trish Hiddleston
  • #LSEEbola
Karin LandgrenEbola may not be a weapon but this disease threatens peace and security. To date, the total number of reported cases of Ebola exceeds 10,000, with over half of the reported cases occurring in Liberia.

Special Representative of the Secretary-General (SRSG) Karin Landgren has run the UN peacekeeping operation in Liberia since mid-2012, with over 8,000 personnel including troops, police and civilians.

Addressing the UN Security Council on 9th September 2014, Landgren said that Liberia faced its gravest crisis since the civil war, which ended in 2003. She pointed to a lack of confidence in the Government’s capacity to address the crisis, unstable political dynamics and deep economic uncertainty, noting that, “The enormous task of addressing Ebola has revealed persistent and profound institutional weaknesses, including in the security sector.”

Can Ebola undo a decade of investment in Liberia's stability? In this public event Karin Landgren will discuss the threats posed by the Ebola crisis including to peace and security.

The Speaker

In July 2012, Karin Landgren was appointed as Special Representative of the Secretary-General to Liberia and Coordinator of UN Operations in Liberia, at the level of Under-Secretary-General.

In this function, she oversees the UN Mission in Liberia (UNMIL), including the ongoing drawdown of military troops and transition of security responsibilities to the Government of Liberia.

Before joining UNMIL, Ms Landgren was the SRSG to Burundi and Head of the UN Mission in Burundi (BNUB). Prior to this, she served as the Secretary-General’s Representative to Nepal, overseeing the mandate and then the closure of the UN Mission, UNMIN.

Ms Landgren worked extensively on humanitarian and refugee issues during her 19 years with the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. During the war in Former Yugoslavia, she served as UNHCR’s Chief of Mission in Bosnia-Herzegovina, overseeing a major operation and liaising closely with the UN peacekeeping operation there. She served as Chief of Mission in Eritrea immediately after the war and prior to Eritrean independence, planning a repatriation operation. As the UNHCR Representative in Singapore, and earlier as Deputy Representative in the Philippines, she worked to protect and resettle Vietnamese boat people. She worked in South Asia for several years, based in India, as UNHCR’s Protection Officer, primarily with refugees from Afghanistan and Iran. She was UNHCR’s Chief of Standards and Legal Advice for four years before leaving to take up a position as UNICEF’s first Chief of Child Protection, in 1998, where she and her colleagues developed a groundbreaking systemic approach to strengthening child protection against violence, abuse and exploitation.

Ms Landgren has continued to publish and lecture on post-conflict, humanitarian, refugee and child protection issues. She earned a Bachelor of Science (Economics) and an LL.M. from the London School of Economics. She grew up in Japan and Denmark, and has two children.

In 2014, UNMIL had 9000 staff (including troops, police and civilians) in 30 locations throughout Liberia, and a budget of just under USD 500 million.

Trish Hiddleston (chair) has worked in human rights and child protection as a researcher and practitioner for most of her career in the UK and internationally.

She has worked with a range of NGOs - including Human Rights Watch (Rwanda, 1996-1999), Amnesty International (Sierra Leone, 2000) and the Women’s Commission (Burundi, 2000-1) - as well as UN organizations - including for UNICEF where she served as Chief of their Child Protection Programme in the Democratic Republic of Congo (2002-2005) and later as their Regional Advisor for Child Protection and Head of their Child and Adolescent Protection and Development Cluster in the Middle East and North Africa (2005-2009). Until the end of March 2012, she was the Senior Advisor on Child Protection to the UN Support Mission in Libya. She was a Visiting Fellow in LSE's Centre for the Study of Human Rights in 2012/3 and is currently a doctoral student in the Department of Social Policy in LSE. Her research focuses on child protection systems in emergency contexts.

Born in Zambia, she holds degrees in Sociology and Social Administration from the University of Southampton, UK (1982), in Law from the University of Edinburgh, UK (1986) and a Masters in Public Policy from Princeton University, USA (2000). 

Event recording

An audio recording of the event is online here