On November 23, 2009 Marie Mainil sat with veteran diplomat Søren Jessen-Petersen in Washington, DC, to gain his insights as to what the next generation of diplomats can learn from diplomacy today, and what they can bring to the table tomorrow. In this exclusive interview with The Mantle, Jessen-Petersen speaks of the need for honesty, integrity and respect in the diplomatic craft, the definition of "success" in diplomacy, and the need to ensure that diplomacy serves human security as well as state interests.
Søren Jessen-Petersen is Independent Diplomat's Head of Office in Washington, DC and leads the Burma project. He is also a lecturer at the School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University and at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies. Until recently Søren was a Guest Scholar at the US Institute of Peace. He has written and spoken extensively on UN and EU political and humanitarian issues and has recently published a book, Flight and Freedom, on the humanitarian consequences of failed, delayed and successful political initiatives.
Søren’s career in the UN and the EU spanned more than 35 years. His last position with the UN was as the Secretary-General’s Special Representative in Kosovo – from August 2004 to July 2006 - where, among other things, he guided the period leading to the launch of talks on Kosovo’s status. Prior to that, he served as the EU Special Representative in Macedonia with a mandate to ensure the implementation of the Ohrid Agreement. His experience also includes the Chairmanship of the European Union Stability Pact's Migration, Asylum, Refugees Regional Initiative (MARRI), and a period as UNHCR Special Envoy with the responsibility to implement the Dayton Peace Agreement on refugee return.
Søren spent more than 30 years with UNHCR, including as Assistant High Commissioner for Refugees overseeing UNHCR’s global operations in Africa, Asia, South America and Europe. Before that, he served as the UNHCR Director to the United Nations in New York, liaising with the Office of the Secretary-General and the Security Council on humanitarian issues.
December 14, 2009Diplomacy, Independent Diplomat, Søren Jessen-Petersen