The United Nations has appointed Catriona Laing, a British diplomat with extensive experience in diplomacy, development, and international relations, as the new Special Representative for Somalia and Head of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Somalia (UNSOM).
In her new role, Laing will support the Somali government in building state institutions, promote human rights, facilitate political dialogue and reconciliation, coordinate humanitarian assistance efforts, and promote peace and security in the nation.
Laing takes over from James Swan of the United States, who is recognized for his commitment and leadership throughout his term.
Established in 2013, UNSOM is working towards creating a peaceful and stable state in Somalia following decades of conflict and political unrest.
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.