Stephen O'Brien

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This article is about the British MP. For the USA geneticist, see Stephen J. O'Brien.
Stephen O'Brien
Stephen O'Brien Official.jpg
Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator
Assumed office
May 2015
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon
Preceded by Valerie Amos, Baroness Amos
Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for International Development
In office
6 May 2010 – 4 September 2012
Succeeded by Lynne Featherstone
Shadow Secretary of State for Industry
In office
11 November 2003 – 6 May 2005
Preceded by Tim Yeo (Trade and Industry)
Succeeded by David Willetts (Trade and Industry)
Member of Parliament
for Eddisbury
Assumed office
22 July 1999
Preceded by Alastair Goodlad
Majority 13,255 (29.2%)
Personal details
Born (1957-04-01) 1 April 1957 (age 57)
Mtwara, Tanganyika Territory
Nationality British
Political party Conservative
Spouse(s) Gemma Townshend
Alma mater Emmanuel College, Cambridge

Stephen Rothwell O'Brien (born 1 April 1957) is a Conservative Party politician in the United Kingdom. He is to be the new United Nations Under Secretary-General for humanitarian affairs and emergency relief coordinator, succeeding Valerie Amos.[1][2] He is Member of Parliament (MP) for Eddisbury, and was first elected in a by-election in July 1999, after Alastair Goodlad was made British High Commissioner in Australia by Tony Blair and thus had to leave Parliament. Within the Conservative-Liberal Democrat Coalition, he was appointed as the Parliamentary Undersecretary of State in the Department for International Development. Since September 2013 he has been the Prime Minister's Envoy to the Sahel, encompassing 9 countries across North and West Africa. In March 2015 he was appointed Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, to take up the position in May, after he stood down from Parliament.

Early life[edit]

He was born in Mtwara, Tanganyika Territory and educated at Loretto School in Mombasa, at the Handbridge School (Chester), the Heronwater School (Abergele), Sedbergh School and Emmanuel College, Cambridge. At Cambridge, he gained an MA in Law in 1979, then collected an MA from the College of Law in Chester in 1980. After two years Articles, he qualified as a Solicitor in 1983 and practised until 1988 at solicitors Freshfields (City of London). From 1988-98, he was Group secretary and Director of Strategic and Corporate Affairs at Redland plc. He was the Executive Director of Redland Clay Tile in Mexico from 1994-98.[citation needed] O'Brien is a former member of the SDP.[3]

Parliamentary career[edit]

He was Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for International Development from May 2010 to September 2012. Prior to the May 2010 elections he was a Shadow Minister for Health. From May to December 2005, he served as the Shadow Minister for Skills. From November 2003 to 2005, he was Shadow Secretary of State for Industry. Previously, he held the post of Shadow Paymaster General and prior to that Shadow Financial Secretary. Before that, he was appointed an Opposition Whip in September 2001. From September 2000 to September 2001, he was Parliamentary Private Secretary to the Chairman of the Conservative Party, the Rt Hon Michael Ancram QC MP. From February to September 2000, he was Parliamentary Private Secretary to the Rt Hon Francis Maude MP.

O'Brien has also served as a member of the House of Commons Select Committee on Education and Employment and on the Education sub-Committee. In addition, he has served as Secretary of the Conservative Northern Ireland Committee and Secretary of the Conservative Trade & Industry Committee.

In 2001, he was appointed an Associate of the British-Irish Inter-Parliamentary Body. Prior to joining the Government, he was Chairman of the All Party Group on Malaria, also of Tanzania and Vice Chairman of the All Party Aid Trade & Debt Group.

In 2000, he introduced a Private Member's Bill for Honesty in Food Labelling (country of origin and standards of production). From 1999, O'Brien has served on the Conservative Party's National Membership Committee. Between 1995-9, O'Brien was Chairman of the Public and Parliamentary Affairs Committee of BMP (National Council of Building Materials Producers, latterly the Construction Products Association)[4] and sat on BMP's Committee of Management and Strategy sub-committee. He was a trade member of the 1994 mission to Argentina and Brazil with the Rt Hon Sir Richard Needham MP (Minister for Trade). O'Brien was elected a member of the South East Regional Council of the CBI, serving between 1995 and 1998, and sat on the CBI's International Investment Committee and Working Parties on Anti-Corruption (pan-European) and Corporate Governance (UK).

Personal life[edit]

He married Gemma Townshend, a nurse, on August 30, 1986 in Bromley, Kent. They have two sons (born July 1988 and August 1990) and a daughter (born January 1993). They live near Tarporley.



External links[edit]

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Alastair Goodlad
Member of Parliament for Eddisbury