United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres announced today the appointment of Catriona Laing of the United Kingdom as his new Special Representative for Somalia and Head of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Somalia (UNSOM). She succeeds James Swan of the United States, to whom the Secretary-General is grateful for his dedication and steadfast leadership of UNSOM during his tenure.
Ms. Laing brings to this position over 35 years of experience in diplomacy, development and international relations, including having held United Kingdom government policy roles in various departments at the national and international levels. Most recently, from November 2018 until April 2023, she served as British High Commissioner to Nigeria. Prior to that, she was the British Ambassador to Zimbabwe from 2014 until 2018.
In addition to her diplomatic roles, Ms. Laing has held several positions in government policy and international development, notably as Deputy Head of the Prime Minister’s Strategy Unit (2000-2004), Director for Human Rights at the Ministry of Justice (2009-2012) and as the Head of the Department for International Development in Sudan (2006-2009). She further headed the United Nations Development Office in Somalia from 1993 to 1994.
Ms. Catriona Laing holds a Master of Science degree in economics from the London School of Economics and Political Science and a Master of Business Administration from Cranfield University, both in the United Kingdom.