Senior Executive Team

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.

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

Kelly T. ClementsKelly 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.

Statements by the Deputy High Commissioner for Refugees

George William Okoth-Obbo, Assistant High Commissioner for Operations

George William Okoth-ObboGeorge Okoth-Obbo is UNHCR’s Assistant High Commissioner for Operations. He was appointed to this position on February 12. 2015. Okoth-Obbo is a lawyer educated for his Bachelor’s Degree in Law at Uganda’s Makerere University; for his Diploma in Legal Practice at the Law Development Centre in the same country; and for his Masters in Law at the University of Nairobi in Kenya.

Before joining UNHCR, Okoth-Obbo was a Lecturer in Law at, respectively, the above-mentioned Law Development Centre and the Faculty of Law at Makerere University. Okoth-Obbo joined UNHCR in 1984 as an Associate Protection Officer in Botswana (1984-1987). He then served as Protection Officer in Swaziland (1987) and Lesotho (1987-1989) before being reassigned to UNHCR headquarters, where he first worked as Senior External Relations Officer in the Secretariat (1989-1991) and later as Senior Legal Advisor for the Regional Bureau for Africa (1991-1995). From August 1995 to July 1998, he served as Assistant Representative for Protection in Ethiopia. His next tour of duty was at the Regional Directorate for Southern Africa in Pretoria, South Africa, first as Senior Policy Officer (1998-1999) and then as Deputy Regional Director until 2001. For the first half of 2001, he was Representative on mission in Zambia before going on to become the Representative for Kenya from July 2001 until August 2006. In the latter month, he returned to UNHCR headquarters to become the Director of the organization’s Division of International Protection Services. He held this position until being appointed as the Director of the Regional Bureau for Africa, also at UNHCR headquarters, a position he took up on July 1, 2009.

He served in this position until his latest appointment as Assistant High Commissioner for Operations. Okoth-Obbo is a national of Uganda. He was born on April 24, 1956, and is married to Esther Okoth-Obbo, with whom he has two children.

Statements by the Assistant High Commissioner for Operations

Gillian Triggs, Assistant High Commissioner for Protection

Gillian TriggsGillian Triggs is UNHCR’s Assistant High Commissioner for Protection. She was appointed on 9 August 2019. Triggs is a highly renowned expert in international law who has held a number of eminent appointments in service to human rights and the refugee cause, including most recently as the President of the Australian Human Rights Commission and the Vice-Chancellor’s Fellow and Emeritus Professor at the University of Melbourne.

In her new function, Triggs will oversee UNHCR’s protection work for millions of refugees, internally displaced, stateless and other people of concern.

An Australian national, she has previously held a number of leadership roles, including as President of the Asian Development Bank Administrative Tribunal, Chair of the UN Independent Expert Panel of Inquiry into Abuse of Office and Harassment in UNAIDS, Dean of International Law at the University of Sydney and as Director of the British Institute of International and Comparative Law in London.

Triggs has been closely associated with a number of not-for-profit organizations throughout her career, including most recently as Chair of Justice Connect, an organization that connects 10,000 lawyers to provide pro bono advice to asylum-seekers and others in need of legal support in Australia. She is also the author of many books and papers on public international law.

Statements by the Assistant High Commissioner for Protection