THE UNITED NATIONS
(New World Order)
(Director-General, UN Office Nairobi, 2020+)
The Official Story
(Director-General, UN Office at Nairobi, 2020+)
Haja Zainab Hawa Bangura (born 18 December 1959) is a Sierra Leonean politician and social activist who has been serving as the Director-General of the United Nations Office at Nairobi (UNON) since 2018, appointed by United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres. She served as the second United Nations Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict with the rank of Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations from 2012 to 2017, in succession to the first holder of the post, Margot Wallström. In 2017 she was succeeded by Pramila Patten.
In 2007, Bangura became Sierra Leone’s foreign minister in the government of President Ernest Bai Koroma of the All People’s Congress (APC) Party. She was the second woman to serve in that post, following Shirley Gbujama who held that position from 1996 to 1997. She served as Minister of Health and Sanitation from 2010 to 2012.
Career in international politics
In 2012, Bangura served on the United Nations Commission on Life-Saving Commodities, which was jointly chaired by Goodluck Jonathan and Jens Stoltenberg, and issued recommendations to increase access to and use of 13 essential commodities for women’s and children’s health.
Bangura subsequently assumed her next position as Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Sexual Violence in Conflict at the level of Under-Secretary-General on 4 September 2012. In this capacity, she also chaired the interagency network UN Action Against Sexual Violence in Conflict. During her time in office, she helped launch an international protocol in 2014 for dealing with rape and sexual violence in conflict, providing guidelines on the investigation of sex crimes and the collection of evidence for future prosecutions. She notably negotiated a June 2015 deal with military commanders in Ivory Coast to prosecute soldiers accused of sexual violence. That same year, she visited Iraq and Syria and worked on an action plan to address the sexual violence being waged by Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS) fighters.
From 2018 until 2019, Bangura co-chaired (alongside Katherine Sierra) an Independent Commission on Sexual Misconduct, Accountability and Culture Change at Oxfam. In 2019, Guterres appointed her as Director-General of the United Nations Office at Nairobi, succeeding Maimunah Mohd Sharif.