Social Scientist and former Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations

Noeleen Heyzer, a social scientist, was an Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations and the highest ranking Singaporean in the UN system during her term.

She was the first woman to serve as the Executive Secretary of the UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific since its founding in 1947. Under her leadership (Aug 2007-Jan 2014), the commission focused on regional co-operation for a more resilient Asia-Pacific, founded on shared prosperity, social equity, and sustainable development.  She was at the forefront of many innovations including for regional disaster preparedness, inclusive socio-economic policies, sustainable agriculture and urbanization, energy security and regional connectivity. She was also the United Nations Secretary General ’s Special Adviser for Timor-Leste, working to support peace-building, state-building, and sustainable development in fragile states.

As the previous Executive Director of the UN Development Fund for Women, she was widely recognized for the formulation and implementation of Security Council Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace, and Security and undertook extensive missions to conflict-affected countries worldwide.

Dr. Heyzer served in the High-level Commonwealth Commission on Respect and Understanding chaired by Nobel Laureate Prof. Amartya Sen. She has received numerous awards for leadership, including the Dag Hammarskjold Medal in 2004, for her work on Women, Peace and Security. She is currently on the United Nations Secretary High Level Advisory Board on Mediation.

She holds a BA Hons and a MSc from Singapore University, and a PhD from Cambridge University.