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Who is Otunnu?

By Charles Odoobo Bichachi

Olara A. Otunnu is currently President of LBL Foundation for Children, a New York-based independent international organisation devoted to promoting protection, hope, healing and education for children in communities devastated by war.

He is widely acclaimed for his leadership, vision, and extensive contribution in the fields of international peace and security; human rights and humanitarian issues; the role and reform of the United Nations; the future of Africa; development issues; and the protection of children exposed to war.

From 1998 to 2005, Otunnu served as UN Under-Secretary General and Special Representative for Children in Armed Conflict. In that capacity he led the international campaign to develop and mobilise international action on behalf of children exposed to war.

He served as president of the International Peace Academy (IPA) from 1990 to 1998. IPA is an international institution dedicated to promoting the prevention and settlement of armed conflict between and within states.

From 1980 to 1985, Otunnu was Uganda’s Permanent Representative to the UN. He was Uganda’s Minister for Foreign Affairs from 1985 to 1986. Subsequently, he returned to academia. From 1987 to 1989, he was affiliated with the Institut Français des Relations Internationales (IFRI) as Visiting Fellow, and with the American University in Paris as Visiting Professor.

Otunnu has served as a member of several eminent commissions, including: the Carnegie Commission on Preventing Deadly Conflict (1994 to 1997); the Commission on Global Governance (1992-1995); the International Panel on Management and Decision-Making in the United Nations (1986-1987); the Group on Rethinking International Governance (1986-1990); the United Nations Group of Experts on New Concepts of International Security (1984-1985); the Commonwealth Group of Experts Study Group on the Security of Small States (1984-1985); and the International Task Force on Security Council Peace Enforcement.

He currently serves on the boards of several prominent organisations, including: the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace; the Aspen Institute; Carnegie Corporation of New York, among others.

Otunnu was president of  Makerere Students’ Guild in 1970s and later as Secretary-General of Uganda Freedom Union which was part of the resistance against Idi Amin regime. At the Moshi Unity Conference on Uganda (1979), Otunnu was elected a member of the National Consultative Council, the interim administration in the post-Amin period (1979-1980).

He was born in Mucwini, Kitgum in 1950.

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