Bringing 29 years of experience to the United Nations, Mr. Ola Almgren held several leadership positions in the coordination of humanitarian assistance, development cooperation, and peace and security. His most recent position was Resident Coordinator in the Philippines, prior to which he served as Director of Political Affairs and Head of the New York Office of the Joint Mission of the United Nations and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) for the elimination of the chemical weapons programme of the Syrian Arab Republic. Mr. Almgren was previously Chief of Staff of the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo (MONUSCO) from 2010 to 2013, and Head of the Integrated Office of the Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary General for that Mission, from 2009 until 2010. He also served in the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and its Bureau for Crisis Prevention and Recovery (2006-2009). Prior to that, the Government of Sweden seconded Mr. Almgren to the Council of the European Union, where he assisted in the development of civilian crisis management doctrine and capacities. Mr. Almgren holds an Executive Master of Business Administration from the Stockholm School of Economics.
Mr. Akio Nakayama assumed the current position as the Chief of Mission for the International Organization for Migration (IOM) Country Office in Myanmar from July, 2017. Prior to that, Mr. Nakayama served as Senior Regional Adviser for Asia and the Pacific at IOM Geneva from 2010. Mr. Nakayama joined IOM in Manila, Philippines in 1996 as an Associate Expert. He worked for the IOM Country Office in Belgrade, Serbia, as an Operations Officer from 1998 to 1999 and the IOM Pristina Office, Kosovo, as a Programme Officer from 1999 to 2000. During this period, he also had a short-term assignment to Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina as an Operations Officer. Then he was assigned to the IOM Country Office in Islamabad, Pakistan as a Programme Officer from 2000 to 2001 and was transferred to IOM Geneva as a Donor Relations Officer from 2001 to 2004. He also served as the Chief of Mission in Tokyo, Japan from 2004 to 2010. Mr. Nakayama holds a Master of Arts in International Relations from the Australian National University.
Andrew Kirkwood has been the Director and Representative for UNOPS in Myanmar since 2017. He is a Canadian with a background as a professional engineer and development planner. He has more than 25 years of experience in the areas of infrastructure, rural development and programme management in Africa and in Asia. Mr. Kirkwood has worked with the United Nations, NGOs, and the private sector. He joined UNOPS in 2011 as the Fund Director for the Livelihoods and Food Security Fund (LIFT), which is now serving nearly half of the rural population of Myanmar. Before joining UNOPS, Mr. Kirkwood worked for Save the Children in country leadership positions in Myanmar (2004-2011) and Ethiopia (2000-2002). He has also worked in Burkina Faso, Mali, Angola and in the Great Lakes region of central Africa.
Benedikt Hofmann took up his functions as UNODC Country Manager for Myanmar in August 2020. Prior to his arrival in Myanmar, Benedikt, a national of Austria, served as Programme Officer in the Office of the Director, Division for Operations, in UNODC Vienna headquarters, where he focused on strategic programme planning, enhancing UN partnerships, and strengthening impact of UNODC field operations around the world. Before that, he oversaw programme development and management in Eastern Africa and the Middle East and North Africa region, with the UNODC Regional Section for Africa and the Middle East.
In 2015 and 2016, Benedikt was posted in the UNODC Regional Office for Southeast Asia and the Pacific in Bangkok, leading regional programme monitoring and reporting, and coordinating core operations for the region. Before his time in Bangkok, he had served in various capacities with the UNODC Regional Sections for Africa and the Middle East as well as West and Central Asia, with a focus on programme development and operations support in Africa, the Middle East, and Afghanistan and neighbouring countries.
Benedikt holds a Master’s degree in Political Science from University of Vienna, Austria. He can be reached on firstname.lastname@example.org and found on twitter as @benihofmann.
Bijay Bahadur Karmacharya was born in Kathmandu in 1966. He graduated with distinction in Engineering in 1990 and Master’s degree with distinction in Resource Engineering from the University of Karlsruhe, Germany 1996. He has had more than 27 years combined experience in the field of Development in various capacities starting with the National Government GTZ and the United Nations. Served last 15 years for UN-Habitat in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Mongolia and currently in Myanmar as the Head of Agency since September 2012. He has led large and complex National Programs that are aimed at community infrastructure development, improving lives and livelihoods of rural and urban poor, food security, employment creation, poverty alleviation etc., and has had long experience in Community Driven Development both in post disaster and post conflict environment. Bijay Karmacharya worked in most diversified programmes of UN-Habitat and a member or UNCT in all four countries of his posting and has been a participant of UNDAF process.
Ms. Dawn Del Rio has over 25 years of experience working in the area of public policy and governance. Her work has focused primarily on building effective citizen engagement in democratic governance including working in government positions at the sub-national level in the United States with state, city and county administrations, and with elections and public officials as Chief of Staff. Ms. Del Rio’s international experience includes working with regional inter-governmental organizations such as the Southern African Development Community (SADC), and with International Nongovernmental Organizations in Central Asia and Southern/Eastern Africa. She joined the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in 2007 where she supported United Nations coordination and development effectiveness in New York. She also served as Chief of the Rule of Law Unit in UNDP Afghanistan and joined the UNDP Myanmar Country Office as Deputy Resident Representative in March 2017. Ms. Del Rio holds a Master Degree in Public Administration and Policy with a focus in environmental policy.
Mr. Donglin LI, Liaison Officer/Representative, started his posting with the ILO Liaison Office in Myanmar in August 2019. He was transferred from the ILO Pacific Office based in Fiji covering eleven ILO countries and was the Director of the Office for almost three years. Mr Li was the Country Director of the ILO Office for Sri Lanka and the Maldives for five and a half years from 2011-2016, the Country Director of the ILO Office for Pakistan for six and a half years from 2004-2011, and the Senior Adviser to the Regional Director for the ILO Regional Office in Bangkok for two and a half years from 2002-2004. In 2010, the Government of Pakistan conferred on him the President Award in recognition of his team excellent services to the People of Pakistan. In 2019, he received TEAMWORK ILO Recognition Award from the ILO Director-General. Mr Li was the Director-general of International Cooperation Department of the Ministry of Labour and Social Security of China before joining the ILO. Mr Li holds a Master Degree in MBA from Heriot-Watt University in UK. He was a Visiting Scholar in the Cooper Union, NY, USA in 1987, Bachelor Degree from the East China University of Science and Technology in 1982 in Shanghai.
Dr. Isabelle Louis has more than 25 years of global, Asia Pacific regional and national level experience in sustainable development and natural resource management as well as in office operations, programme management, multi-stakeholder engagement and multidisciplinary team management. She has been Deputy Regional Director at UN Environment Programme (UNEP) Asia Pacific since September 2014. She coordinates the UN Environment’s work programme in the region pursuant to the organization’s mandate to support the UN Member States in the region on issues related to the environment, sustainability and the Sustainable Development Goals. She facilitates UN Environment’s strategic partnerships in the region. Before joining UNEP, she was Regional Director of WWF International’s Asia Pacific Programme. She has a scientific background in Botany and Plant Pathology. She received her BSc and PhD from Sheffield University in the United Kingdom, followed by a Teaching Fellowship at the National University of Singapore and a Post doctorate Fellowship at Harvard University.
June Kunugi has worked in UNICEF for over 28 years, including as the UNICEF Representative in Myanmar since September 2017. She has headed UNICEF country and area offices covering child rights-based development programs, humanitarian response, advocacy, partnerships, and operations in the State of Palestine; Bosnia and Herzegovina; and Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates. She has served three times in UNICEF’s New York Headquarters—in the Division of Public Affairs; in the Office of the Executive Director; and as Deputy Director and then acting Director of UNICEF’s Public-Sector Alliances and Resource Mobilization Office. She has also been Director of UNICEF’s Tokyo office, overseeing public sector partnerships and resource mobilization in Japan and the Republic of Korea. She started her career in UNICEF working in Communications, including in Viet Nam as a Junior Professional Officer sponsored by the Government of Japan, and later in Bangladesh, first as Communications officer, then as chief of the section. Her academic background is in communication and social studies with a master’s degree from Columbia University, and a bachelor’s degree from Wesleyan University in the United States.
Marie Spaak has worked in the field of humanitarian affairs for 30 years, in a variety of progressive roles with OCHA, the Directorate-General for European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (ECHO), UNHCR, and as an independent evaluator. She has served with OCHA in Indonesia, Geneva, the Russian Federation, Haiti, Yemen, the Commonwealth of Dominica and, prior to Myanmar, in Mali. Marie has also carried out strategic and operational evaluations for the CERF secretariat, OCHA, ECHO, and WFP as an independent evaluator. She worked for ECHO in the former Yugoslavia, Brussels, Rwanda and Bangladesh. Marie began her career in humanitarian affairs with UNHCR in Belgium in 1987, prior to working for three years as the Deputy Director of a non-governmental organization supporting non-governmental organizations in Europe understand how European Union institutions function and how to make their voices heard at this level. Ms. Spaak, a Belgian national, is an anthropology undergraduate from Bryn Mawr College (USA) and holds a post-graduate diploma in international cooperation project cycle management from the Universidad Abierta de Cataluña (Spain).
Min Jeong Kim is Head of UNESCO and leads a dedicated team to support educational development and reform; media development for freedom of expression and right to information; and the preservation of cultural heritage and diversity in Myanmar. Prior to her current position, she was Head of the UN Secretary-General’s Global Education First Initiative (GEFI) Secretariat and Policy Advisor to the One UN Secretariat on Post 2015 Development Planning in New York, USA. She previously worked in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, as Chief of UNESCO Education Programme for the Indian Ocean countries; and in Beirut, Lebanon, as the UNESCO Regional Programme Coordinator for Education in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region. She also served in the Executive Office of the Assistant Director-General for Education at UNESCO Headquarters in Paris, France. She had been a journalist, a teacher and a human rights activist in her home country, Republic of Korea.
Ms Kim holds an Executive Masters in International Management from the University of Amsterdam, the Netherlands, a Masters in Political Science from Yonsei University, and a Bachelors in English Literature from Seoul National University, Republic of Korea.
Mr Nicolas Burniat was appointed as UN Women Representative in Myanmar in March 2019.
Prior to this appointment, Mr Burniat served from 2014 to early 2019, in turn, as Deputy Representative and then Representative a.i. for UN Women’s Fiji Multi-Country Office which covers 14 countries and territories in the Pacific. Mr Burniat initially joined UN Women in 2011 in New York where he served as Special Assistant to UN Women’s first and second Executive Directors and Under-Secretary General, Ms Michelle Bachelet and Ms Phumzile Mlambo-Ngucka until 2014.
Prior to joining UN Women, Mr Burniat worked from 2009 to 2010 for the Belgian Ministry of Foreign Affairs at the Permanent Mission of Belgium to the United Nations where he followed human rights and gender, co-chaired the European Union General Assembly Third Committee Working Group during the Belgian Presidency of the EU and chaired the CSW Working Group on Communications on the Status of Women. From 2007 to 2008 he worked as Pennoyer Fellow/Senior Associate for the US based NGO Human Rights First.
Mr Burniat started his career with the United Nations as a lawyer with the International Court of Justice, the main judicial organ of the United Nations, based in The Netherlands, where he served from 2001 to 2007 in different capacities including as legal officer and as Special Assistant to the President of the Court.
Mr Burniat, is a Belgian citizen. He holds a Master’s Degree in Law and two Advanced Masters in Private and Public International Law from the Université Libre de Bruxelles as well as an LLM from New York University.
From a social science background, the Director of the UNAIDS Country Office (UCO) in Myanmar, Oussama Tawil, has worked on HIV at national, regional and global level since 1988, with an overall focus on the continuum of prevention, treatment and care through a public health and development perspective. This has involved work on HIV prevention among at-risk, vulnerable and socially excluded communities in the following regions: West and Central Africa, Middle East and North Africa, and Asia and the Pacific. Following earlier contribution to the World Health Organization (WHO), Oussama Tawil has been part of the Joint UN Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) since 1996. Prior to his arrival in Myanmar, his last two assignments have been to lead and coordinate UNAIDS' efforts in Pakistan and Afghanistan (2008-12) and India (2013-17).
Paul Luchtenberg has served as the Country Coordinator for UNCDF in Myanmar since 2013. Previously he served as the Senior Operations Officer covering the East Asia and Pacific region for the International Finance Corporation (IFC). Before that he was a microfinance implementer serving as the CEO of AMK in Cambodia. He has more than 25 years of experience in Microfinance and Financial Inclusion playing a variety of roles from implementer, Technical Assistance provider, funder, board member and equity investor. He holds an MBA from Eastern University and has also been a part of the writing of a number of books and articles on microfinance and financial inclusion. Paul is passionate about ensuring microfinance and financial inclusion maximize benefits to clients, he serves on the Social Performance Task Force board and was a founding board member of the SMART campaign for client protection.
Mr. Ramanathan Balakrishnan (Rama) assumed his charge as UNFPA Representative in Myanmar starting Dec 05, 2018. Mr. Balakrishnan has more than 20 years of development coordination experience in varied political contexts including the Asia-Pacific and the Middle-East North Africa (MENA) Region. Prior to arriving in Myanmar, Mr. Balakrishnan served as the UNFPA Representative in Iraq, between 2015-2018, where he managed the largest UNFPA programme globally. More recently he was attached to UNFPA HQ on a special assignment supporting the transition of the UNFPA Humanitarian and Fragile Context Branch (HFCB) to the Humanitarian Office architecture. His earlier assignments include, Deputy Regional Director, UN Women Asia Pacific Regional Office (2012-2015); UNDP Deputy Resident Representative, Libya (2007-2012); UNDP (UNV Volunteers, Bonn) Management Specialist (2003-2007). Mr. Balakrishnan is an Indian national and holds twin masters in Natural Resources Management and Population Studies.
Rudy Juanito is a national of the Philippines where he served as an Army Officer for 22 years occupying both command and staff positions, before he joined the UN. He started his career in the UN Security as a Field Security Officer of WFP in Kandahar and Kabul Afghanistan from 2004 to 2006. He was the first UNDSS Security Adviser for Viet Nam from 2006 to 2009. He then served as FSCO in Peshawar and Karachi Pakistan from 2009-2012, and 2013 respectively. He was reassigned as Deputy Chief Security Adviser of UNDSS Indonesia from 2013-2015 and was reassigned to Yemen for the same post from 2015, until his recent assignment as Security Adviser for UNDSS Myanmar in February this year. He participated in various emergency missions as UNDSS Surge officer in Pakistan (Earthquake Emergency-2006), Myanmar (Cyclone Narqis-2008), Somalia (2007), Algeria (after the attack on the UN- 2007), and Philippines (Typhoon Haiyan- 2013). He holds a BS Degree from the Philippine Military Academy and a master’s degree in Development Management (MDM) from the Asian Institute of Management, both institutions are in the Philippines.
Stephen Anderson is a USA national born in Nairobi, Kenya who grew up mostly in eastern Africa. He studied at Georgetown University and the American University in Cairo.
He has served with the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) most of his professional career. He joined WFP in 1989 in Sudan and subsequently served in Ethiopia, Rome (WFP Headquarters), with short-term emergency stints in Kenya and in southern Africa.
He had held senior management positions with WFP in the Philippines (2008 - 2013) Japan Office (2013 - 2016) and in Yemen (2017 - August 2019), with a short-term contribution to the WFP emergency response to the Nepal earthquake (2015).
In October 2019, he assumed the role of WFP Representative and Country Director in Myanmar.
He is married and has three children.
Sylvie Bétemps Cochin
Senior Trade Promotion Officer and Country Manager for Myanmar
Sylvie Bétemps Cochin is Senior Trade Promotion Officer, Country Manager for Myanmar, within the Office for Asia and The Pacific, at the International Trade Centre (ITC). Sylvie Bétemps Cochin has more than 17 years of experience in international trade, project management and trade-related technical assistance in Asia and Africa. She is responsible for a portfolio of 14 Asian countries, including least developed countries (LDCs), for which she leads country coordination and client relationships. She has managed and developed multi-disciplinary trade-related technical assistance projects in Asia, including in Bhutan, Cambodia, China, Malaysia, Mongolia, Myanmar, Sri Lanka and Thailand. Previously, she was the Adviser for a large regional trade and economic integration programme in Africa. She was also responsible for managing regional projects, supporting south-south trade promotion, institutional strengthening and the competitiveness of small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) in Asia and Africa.
Xiaojie Fan was appointed FAO Representative in Myanmar in September 2016 responsible for developing and implementing FAO’s field programmes for addressing national food security, agriculture and rural development objectives in areas related to FAO’s mandate. She comes from the Emergency and Rehabilitation Division of FAO HQs in Rome, Italy, where she supported field offices on emergency projects involving humanitarian assistance. From 2008 to 2013, she was Regional Coordinator for National Forest Programme in FAO Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific, Bangkok, Thailand, where she supported governments and multi-stakeholders to develop and promote national programmes and strategies for sustainable forest management. Prior to that, she worked in Forestry Department, FAO HQs in 2007. In 2003 she joined UNOPS as the Head of UNOPS Beijing Implementation Facility in China, and Portfolio Manager in its Asia and the Pacific Regional Office in Bangkok, Thailand from 2004 – 2007. She started her first FAO assignment in 1998 as Programme Officer in FAO Representation in China until January 2003. Prior to working with UN, she spent most of her professional career with the Ministry of Forestry of China from 1985 to 1997. Ms Fan holds a Master’s Degree in Forestry Economics from Beijing Forestry University.