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Senior Executive Team

The Senior Executive Team (SET) brings together the most senior leaders within UNHCR.

Drawing on their expertise in protection, operations and management, its members advise the High Commissioner on matters of strategic importance, both to support his decision making on high-level political analysis and to strengthen his capacity to provide strategic direction to the organization.

SET members share responsibility for the implementation of the decisions taken by the High Commissioner and play a critical role in supporting the overall institutional coherence and maintaining unity of purpose across the management structure.

The SET comprises the High Commissioner, the Deputy High Commissioner, the Assistant High Commissioner for Protection, the Assistant High Commissioner for Operations and the Chef de Cabinet. Additional senior staff members may be invited to join the SET to share their expertise on a particular topic of relevance. The High Commissioner chairs the SET and may request that it convene in his absence to deliberate on specific issues and to provide their collective advice for his final decision.

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Kelly T. Clements, United Nations Deputy High Commissioner for Refugees

Kelly T. Clements joined UNHCR as Deputy High Commissioner on 6 July 2015. Clements has been closely involved with refugee and displacement issues throughout her three decade career.

Before joining UNHCR, Clements was a member of the Senior Executive Service, serving as Deputy Assistant Secretary of State in the Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration (PRM) where she was responsible for humanitarian issues in Asia and the Middle East and global policy and budget. In 2014, she was Acting Deputy Chief of Mission at the U.S. Embassy in Beirut, Lebanon.


From 1993 to 1996, Clements served at the U.S. Permanent Mission to the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland on a Foreign Service appointment. She was Special Assistant to the Under Secretary of State for Global Affairs in 1997-1998. Clements served as a Senior Emergency Officer for Europe, the Newly Independent States, and the Americas, and later as Balkans Assistance Coordinator; she was deployed to Albania in 1999. She worked for the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees in Bangladesh in 1992.

Clements holds a B.A. in International Studies and an M.A. in Urban Affairs from Virginia Tech, USA. She is a national of the United States of America.

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Raouf Mazou, Assistant High Commissioner for Operations

Raouf Mazou took up his appointment as UNHCR’s Assistant High Commissioner for Operations on 1 February 2020, having joined the organisation in 1991. His various assignments have enabled him to garner expertise in such areas as emergency response, repatriation, and the development of strategies aimed at bridging the gap between relief and development.

Mazou previously served as Director of UNHCR’s Africa Bureau in 2019 and as UNHCR Representative in Kenya for over five years. In the four years immediately preceding this assignment, he was a Deputy Director in the Africa Bureau, covering the East and Horn of Africa.


Other senior positions he has held at UNHCR include Deputy Director of the Division of Operations Support and Head of the Emergency and Security Service, a role in which he oversaw the organization’s global emergency management and staff security interests.

Mazou joined UNHCR in 1991 in the Great Lakes Region and subsequently served in West Africa, supporting the agency’s response to the Liberian and Sierra Leonean refugee crises. He holds a Bachelor’s degree in law from the University of Geneva, Switzerland. He is fluent in English and French.

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Ruvendrini Menikdiwela, Assistant High Commissioner for Protection

Ruvendrini Menikdiwela is UNHCR’s Assistant High Commissioner for Protection, taking up her appointment in January 2024.

Menikdiwela served as the Director of the UNHCR New York Office from February 2020 to December 2023. Prior to this, she held the position of UNHCR Representative in Pakistan from September 2017 to February 2020 and also previously served as the UNHCR Representative in Thailand.


Her career with UNHCR spans 36 years and includes a range of functions at UNHCR Headquarters as well as country operations in Thailand, Turkmenistan and the United States.

Menikdiwela obtained a Bachelor of Laws (LLB) and a Master of Laws (LLM) in European Community and Public International Law from the University of Paris II. She is fluent in English and French.