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United Nations at LSE

Through both direct collaboration between LSE IDEAS and UN agencies and sharing the best of the LSE's work on and with the UN.


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The first major collaboration between IDEAS and the UN is the UN Business and Human Security Initiative.

Events and Podcasts


Partnering with business to promote human security and the SDGs: comparative experiences

How can business collaborate with other actors to find innovative solutions to contemporary development and security issues facing societies and policymakers? This conference was held over two days, Tuesday 13 April and Wednesday 14 April 2021, with the University of Rosario.

Testing Innovative Social Impact Measurement by Businesses in Complex Contexts

How can businesses measure their social impact in fragile and conflict-affected settings? Mark van Dorp, Marcel Smits, Vesna Bojicic-Dzelilovic, Irina van der Sluijs, and Remco Slim present a new methodology that applies human security and Positive Peace approaches to corporate engagements with communities.

ImpactFest 2020 - Institute for Economics & Peace - Testing innovative social impact measurement

"How can businesses measure their actual social impact in complex settings? A new approach is presented that can help to decide what is truly material for companies operating in high-risk contexts and how this can define the corporate responsibility toward the local communities. The webinar sought to capitalise on increasing interest by the private sector in demonstrating positive social impact and allowed participants to debate the usefulness of the approach and how to meet the challenge of improving social impact measurement and advancing achievement of the SDGs.

KPAC20: 'Measuring Social Impacts in FCAS' with LSE IDEAS, Bureau van Dorp and IEP

The goal of the session was to test and further develop a new approach to social impact measurement in FCAS, based on human security and positive peace through debating this novel methodology with end-users. This session featured panelists Mary Martin, Marcel Smits, Mark van Dorp, Anne Stikkers and Remco Slim.

People, Profits and Peace: a human security approach to private sector peacebuilding and sustainable development

How can business work with individuals and communities in areas affected by conflict and crisis and work towards the UN’s Agenda 2030 and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)? This event saw the launch of the Human Security Business Partnership Framework which sets out to answer this question.

The Chocolate Case Co-hosted with the United Nations Cinema and the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands

Marking the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, LSE IDEAS and the UN Cinema presented a screening The Chocolate Case, followed by a panel discussion on the links between responsible business, consumers, and modern day slavery.  

To End A War Co-hosted with the United Nations and the Embassy of Colombia

What does it takes for a nation of 50 million to move from hatred to forgiveness, from war to peace? Listen to the panel discussion on the Colombian peace process and the future of the country.

The UN, the Private Sector, and Human Security Partnerships

To mark the launch of a new research and policy initiative on business and Human Security by LSE IDEAS, Yukio Takasu, the UN Secretary-General’s Special Adviser on Human Security spoke about the role of the private sector working with governments  to address insecurity and achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.

Pathways to Peace in Colombia LSE IDEAS - International Alert - LSE LACC Event

Joshua Mitrotti, director of Colombia’s Agency for Reintegration on the challenges and achievements of a ground-breaking approach to absorb thousands of former paramilitaries and guerrilla fighters into productive employment as part of the country’s post-conflict transition.

Strengthening Global Governance for the 21st Century

In this lecture, Director-General of UNESCO Irina Bokova explored the role of the United Nations in sustaining a rules-based international order in an increasingly turbulent world. 

The key to success of the Sustainable Development Goals?

This event with UN advocates Paul Polman (CEO of Unilever) and Alaa Murabit explored how the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) can be achieved -including the crucial roles of local leadership and institutions, global businesses, and young people around the world.

Private events

LSE-DPI Roundtable: a human security approach to private sector contributions to peace and the economy in Turkey

The UN Business and Human Security Initiative at LSE IDEAS and the Democratic Progress Institute organised a roundtable event at the LSE. 

It was attended by a small, diverse group of Turkey's prominent business people and organisations, including company CEO's and heads of business associations. This roundtable provided participants with an opportunity to discuss the links between peace, stability and economic growth and what role the private sector can play in conflict resultion processes.

Mary Martin and Vesna Bojicic-Dzelilovic led a session focussing on modern ways in which the private sector can be positively engaged in conflict resolution. You can find further details of the roundtable in this summary report

LSE-BHR Company Roundtable in Madrid: a human security approach to working in complex business environments

The UN Business and Human Security Initiative at LSE IDEAS and Business and Human Rights (BHR) held a roundtable at the EOI Business School in Madrid, as part of a global series of stakeholder meetings planned by the initiative.

Representatives from companies in different industrial sectors - including Endesa, Repsol, Prosegur and Gas Natural Fenosa - discussed the value for Spanish business leaders of a human security approach and how to best work in complex, conflict-affected environments. For example, Mikel Berraondo from Zabala Innovation Consulting gave his perspective on working with indigenous communities and the particular challenges this can pose to companies on the ground.

Corporate Peace: private sector strategies for conflict prevention, peacebuilding and sustainable development LSE IDEAS - WOSCAP Event

This roundtable examined research findings from the European Commission research project ‘Whole of Society Conflict Prevention and Peacebuilding' and other studies on public-private partnerships to explore the possibilities for both policymakers and companies to work more constructively together for the benefit of both. 

From Iraq to the New Cold War: Hans Blix 

Hans Blix achieved international prominence in his role as Head of the UN team which failed to discover WMD in Iraq in 2003. At this event, Blix explored lessons from the past and a way forward for the future of weapons control in a world that has become no safer.

Publications and Media Activity


Mary Martin is Director of the UN Business and Human Security Initiative. Her research focuses on the role of the private sector in conflict and peacebuilding and private security in the international system. She was co-ordinator of the Human Security Study Group 2006-1010, reporting to the High Representative of the European Union. She holds a PhD in International Relations from the University of Cambridge. 

Christina Bache is a Visiting Fellow on the UN at LSE Project, specialising in conflict transformation and peace, business ethics, human security, and socioeconomic development. Christina is the Chair of the International Crisis Group's Ambassador Council in Istanbul and is a member of the United Nations Business for Peace/Principles for Responsible Management Education working group. Christina received her PhD from the Department of Politics and International Studies at the University of Warwick.

Linda Benräis is Adjunct Professor of Comparative Law and Mediation at ESSEC Business School and Director of ESSEC's IRENÉ programmes "Governance and Conflict Resolution". She coordinates international and European programmes related to governance, human rights, and international mediation. She has 18 years of experience as an EU legal consultant and trainer in international legal cooperation, legal and judicial reforms, international mediation and other ADR in Eastern Europe, the Middle East, North Africa, and South-East Asia.

Vesna Bojicic-Dzelilovic specialises in the political economy of conflict and post conflict reconstruction, post-communist transition, civil wars, political economy of policy making and regional development. She has acted as an expert to the UNDP, the World Bank and the European Commission. Dr Bojicic-Dzelilovic holds PhD in Economics and MA in Economic Development.

Alice Bryant is a Research Associate for the UN Business and Human Security Initiative.

Margherita Parodi is a Research Associate for the UN Business and Human Security Initiative.

Advisory Board

Dame Elizabeth Corley (Chair)  is Chair of the Impact Investing Institute.  She was CEO of Allianz Global Investors, initially for Europe then globally, from 2005 to 2016 and acted as a senior advisor to the firm until the end of 2019.  She was previously at Merrill Lynch Investment Managers (formerly Mercury Asset Management) and Coopers & Lybrand.  

Elizabeth  serves on three company boards as a non-executive director – Pearson plc, BAE Systems plc and Morgan Stanley Inc.  Additionally, she is a trustee of the British Museum where she chairs the Investment Sub-Committee.  She is also a member of the Leverhulme Trust Investment Committee.  

Elizabeth  remains actively engaged in the investment management industry, particularly on topics of policy and standards development.  She is a member of the CFA Future of Finance Advisory Council and the AQR Asset Management Institute; a member of the 300 Club and Committee of 200.  Elizabeth  is a fellow of the Royal Society of Arts and is also a published author of crime thrillers.

In 2016,  Elizabeth  received an honorary doctorate from the London Institute of Banking and Finance (formerly IFS University College); in July 2019 she received an honorary fellowship from London Business School.  Elizabeth  was made a Dame in 2019 for services to the economy and financial services. 

Lutfey Siddiqi  is an Adjunct Professor at the National University of Singapore (Risk Management Institute), a Visiting Professor in Practice at the London School of Economics (LSE IDEAS) and a Distinguished Fellow at Policy Research Institute Bangladesh.  He was previously Global Head of Emerging Markets for Foreign Exchange, Rates & Credit at UBS Investment Bank and, prior to that, a Managing Director at Barclays Bank in charge of a business-line across Asia Pacific.  

Melissa Powell is the Chief of Staff of the United Nations Global Compact, the world’s largest voluntary corporate sustainability initiative. A valued member of the Executive Management Committee, Ms. Powell joined the UN Global Compact shortly after its launch in 2001. Ms. Powell has been involved in virtually every aspect of the programme, building the initiative to where it stands today — with over 10,000 corporate participants and non-business stakeholders from 160 countries.

In 2016, Ms. Powell assumed the role of Chief of Staff.  Reporting to the CEO & Executive Director, she is responsible for managing day-to-day operations, as well as key strategic initiatives. Her responsibilities include overseeing the governance of the initiative, including Board Relations and Integrity.  She also oversees Strategic Planning, the Compact’s strategic relations with Governments as well as partnerships across the United Nations System, including with the Executive Office of the UN Secretary-General. 

In her previous role as Head of Strategy and Partnerships for the UN Global Compact, Ms. Powell led a range of strategic initiatives including those focused on connecting companies with the United Nations. She also led the development of “Business for Peace”, an initiative that supports companies to operate responsibly and contribute to development and peace in high-risk areas of the world.

A graduate of the London School of Economics, where she earned a master's degree in International Relations, Ms. Powell also holds an honours bachelor's degree in Political Science from Queen’s University, Canada.

Antonio Fuertes Zurita 

Hendrik du Toit 

Ambassador Antonio José Ardila is Colombian Ambassador to the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. Mr Ardila is a graduate from Harvard College and MBA from University of Miami. He has been a businessman for more than 37 years.

Until recently Mr Ardila was Chairman of the Board of Directors of Colombia´s largest non-alcoholic beverage company, Postobon, owned by the Organización Ardila Lülle (OAL). He was also member of the Board of Directors of Peldar S.A, Colombia´s largest glass container manufacturer, and Central Cervecera de Colombia (CCC) a joint venture in the brewing industry with CCU of Chile and Heineken. He was Chairman of the Board of other companies, such as Club Atletico Nacional, one of Colombia´s professional football teams, and Chairman of other non-profit foundations.

Mr Ardila is founding member of the Georgetown University’s Latin American Board, a Latin American programme created to promote entrepreneurial leadership.

On 4 March 2019, Mr. Ardila was appointed by the President of the Republic of Colombia, H.E. Iván Duque Márquez, as Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.  

Mehrnaz Mostafavi is the Chief of the Human Security Unit (HSU) at the United Nations. Since joining the HSU, she has been instrumental in establishing the strategic vision of the HSU and its operational activities in over 90 countries; developing the HSU as the center of excellence and knowledge on human security; strengthening the policy basis for human security within and outside of the United Nations; and expanding the resources of the HSU and the UNTFHS.   

Ms. Mostafavi has in-depth knowledge of global priorities such as: Agenda 2030 and the implementation of the sustainable development goals; bridging the gap between humanitarian assistance, sustaining peace and long-term development; climate change and disaster risk reduction; and responding to the multi-dimensional consequences of today’s crises on peace, prosperity and human dignity. 

Prior to joining the HSU, she worked at the Bureau for Development Policy at the United Nations Development Programme where she provided policy guidance on a wide range of issues including inclusive globalization, pro-poor trade and poverty reduction. In addition to her contributions at the United Nations, Ms. Mostafavi has worked in the corporate multinational sector, as well as academia.   

Hugh Sandeman is a Visiting Senior Fellow at LSE IDEAS and Project Head of Global Strategies. He was an international banker for 30 years based in New York, Tokyo, London, and Frankfurt, and for the past decade has focused on India. He was previously Tokyo correspondent, international business editor and New York correspondent of The Economist. 

Dermot Ahern is a former Irish Member of Parliament and Government Minister and was a key figure for more than 20 years in the Irish peace process, including in negotiations for the Good Friday Agreement and the St Andrews Agreement. He also has extensive experience at the EU Council level, including as a key negotiator and signatory to the Constitutional and Lisbon Treaties. In 2005, he was appointed by the then UN Secretary General Kofi Annan to be a Special Envoy on the issue of UN Reform. 

Shamina Singh is the Founder and President of the Center for Inclusive Growth, the philanthropic hub of Mastercard. For more than 20 years, Shamina Singh has been on the frontlines of developing and implementing solutions to make the global economy work for everyone, everywhere. She also serves as Executive Vice President of Corporate Sustainability. In both these capacities, Shamina is charged with activating the philanthropic dollars of the Mastercard Impact Fund, a $500 million pool of capital committed to advance inclusive growth around the world.

UN Business and Human Security Initiative

How can business protect and empower individuals and communities in areas affected by conflict and crisis? This initiative aims to develop a model framework of Human Security Business Partnership to encourage collaboration between the private sector, the public sector, and civil society to address a wide range of security needs on the ground - working towards the UN’s Agenda 2030 and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

LSE IDEAS will bring together academics and practitioners from international companies and NGOs to develop this innovative framework, and partner with UN agencies to initially implement it in different development schemes in Colombia. UN partners include:


In Colombia, LSE IDEAS and the UN will work with global companies, communities, government, and civil society in applying the partnership framework to analyse private sector contributions to the peace process and support business engagement with conflict-affected communities. After its testing phase, the framework implementation will be replicated in different development schemes in Colombia.


Implementation of Human Security Business Partnerships will be supported by an Expert Working Group of academics and practitioners. They will analyse evidence from the trials of the Framework, develop additional applications in post-conflict regions, and generate recommendations for policy and practice changes for the UN, national policymakers, and business leaders.

LSE IDEAS will also host the global secretariat  of the Human Security Business Initiative to support the development of the HSBP Framework and encourage business and government engagement with human security.

For more on the role of the private sector in post-conflict reconstruction, read this journal article by Mary Martin and Vesna Bojicic-Dzelilovic of the UN Business and Human Security Initiative (subscription may be required).

What is Human Security?

Human Security is an alternative approach to traditional security which is people-centred, prevention orientated and context specific. The idea combines security, development, and human rights. 

Human security seeks to protect people against multiple and interconnected threats which affect the vital elements of everyday life. It is based on the fundamental principle that people are entitled to freedom from fear, freedom from want, dignity, and an equal opportunity to enjoy all their rights and fully develop their human potential.

For more information, read the IDEAS background paper on Human Security (pdf).


The UN Business and Human Security Initiative is supported by the United Nations Trust Fund for Human Security (UNTFHS), established in 1999 to finance projects that translate the human security approach into practical actions and provide concrete and sustainable benefits to vulnerable people and communities threatened in their survival, livelihood and dignity.

The Human Security Business Initiative is also supported by LSE's Knowledge Exchange and Impact (KEI) fund, The Rockefeller FoundationSwissPeaceInternational AlertESSEC-Irene, Business and Human Rights, and BuildUp.