Skip to main content

Former Executive Secretary

Ms. Noeleen Heyzer, a national of Singapore, served as the Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations and the 9th Executive Secretary of the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) from 2007 - 2014.

Noeleen Heyzer has dedicated her professional life to the transformation of institutions and agendas – opening spaces for dialogue and change, to advance equity, social justice, and sustainable development for people and planet. Dr. Heyzer is the first woman to hold this position since ESCAP was created in 1947. Under her leadership, ESCAP has focused on building an inclusive, sustainable and resilient Asia-Pacific, founded on shared prosperity, and social equity.

In June 2013, the Secretary-General also announced Dr. Heyzer’s concurrent appointment as his Special Adviser for Timor-Leste, working with the Government and UN Country Team to support the continuing efforts of Timor-Leste towards peace-building, state-building, and inclusive and sustainable development.

Dr. Heyzer was previously the head of the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM), where she assisted over 100 countries in the formulation and implementation of legislation and policies that promote women’s security and rights. This resulted in the removal of discriminatory practices, changes in inheritance laws for women, better working conditions for migrant workers, women’s full participation in several peace negotiations and electoral processes. Achieving annual resource growth of more than 10 per cent for over a decade, she was also instrumental in the formulation and implementation of Security Council Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security.

She holds a Bachelor of Arts and a Master of Science from the University of Singapore, as well as a Doctorate in social sciences from Cambridge University. She has also received numerous awards for leadership, including the Dag Hammarskjöld Medal, and is a member of the Board of Trustees of the National University of Singapore.