Ian Martin (UN official)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Ian Martin is an English human rights activist/advisor and sometime United Nations official.[1] His most recent UN assignment was as the Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of the United Nations Support Mission in Libya.[2] From 2015 to 2018 he was Executive Director of Security Council Report.

Early life[edit]

Martin was educated at Brentwood School in Brentwood, Essex and graduated from Emmanuel College, Cambridge with first class honours in history and economics.[1] Afterwards, he was a graduate student in development economics at Harvard University for a year.[1]

From 1969 to 1972, Martin worked for the Ford Foundation in India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh.[1] In 1971 while in Dhaka, East Pakistan, he witnessed the beginning of Bangladesh's War of Independence.[1][3]

After returning to the United Kingdom, Martin worked with the Redbridge Community Relations Council in London then served five years as the General Secretary of the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants followed by three years as the General Secretary of the Fabian Society.[1] He was a Labour Party Councillor in the London Borough of Redbridge 1978 to 1982.

Amnesty International[edit]

Martin's earlier work on the Indian subcontinent led to him become Head of the Asia Region in the Research Department of Amnesty International in 1985.[1] On 1 October 1986, he became Secretary-General of Amnesty International, a post he held until October 1992.[1][2][4][5] The number of members, supporters, and subscribers to the organization nearly doubled in size during Martin's tenure as Secretary-General.[4] Martin headed Amnesty International missions to Israel and the Occupied Territories, Uganda, Bahrain, Kuwait, Republic of Korea, Argentina, Austria, Egypt, Bangladesh, Cuba, Philippines, Hungary, Mozambique, USSR, Syria, Pakistan, Sudan, Jordan, Yemen, Colombia, Peru, Bhutan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Tunisia and India.[6] The Human Rights Now! and A Conspiracy of Hope concert tours took place during Martin's leadership.[4]

Martin's resignation as Secretary-General of Amnesty International was discussed in Stephen Hopgood's 2006 book Keepers of the Flame: Understanding Amnesty International.[7] According to Hopgood, Martin's decision was partially due to conflict with the chairman of Amnesty's International Executive Committee, Peter Duffy.[7] After leaving AI, he became a senior associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.[1]

United Nations[edit]

Martin has held a number of senior positions with the United Nations and other international organizations. While working at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, he was asked to serve as Director of Human Rights and Deputy Executive Director of the UN/OAS International Civilian Mission in Haiti.[1][2][5] After leaving Haiti, Martin was named Chief of United Nations Human Rights Field Operation in Rwanda from 1995 to 1996.[1][2][5]

Martin was appointed Special Adviser on Human Rights Field Operations to the High Commissioner on Human Rights in 1998, then Deputy High Representative for Human Rights in the Office of the High Representative for Bosnia and Herzegovina from 1998 to 1999.[1][2][5] During the United Nations Mission in East Timor that garnered worldwide attention in 1999, Martin served as Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for the East Timor Popular Consultation.[1][2][5] From 2000 to 2001 he was appointed Deputy Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General in the United Nations Mission in Ethiopia and Eritrea.[1][2][5] In 2006, he served as Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for Timor-Leste.[1][2]


From 2005 to 2006, Martin led the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights in Nepal.[2][5][8] In October 2005, the government of King Gyanendra put in place a restrictive media ordinance which resulted in Martin's office releasing a statement decrying it as "violat[ing] international human rights standards".[8] Martin also held the position of Personal Representative of the Secretary-General in Nepal for support to the peace process, 2006–2007, and Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of United Nations Mission in Nepal,[2] 2006–2009.

Sri Lanka[edit]

During the Sri Lankan Civil War, Martin was appointed by the Sri Lankan government and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam as human rights adviser to the peace process and involved in peace talks.[5] Talks were suspended in 2003 before the two parties approved an agreement on human rights drafted by Martin.[9]

Gaza investigation and WikiLeaks[edit]

In 2009, Martin was appointed to head an independent United Nations Headquarters Board of Inquiry by Secretary-General of the United Nations Ban Ki-moon in order to investigate nine separate incidents during the 2008–2009 Gaza War involving deaths, injuries or damage at U.N. facilities.[2][10][11][12] The Board's report, a summary of which was released on 5 May 2009, concluded that seven separate incidents were the result of firing by the Israeli Defence Forces, but found no evidence that U.N. facilities had been used to launch attacks against the IDF.[13]

The Board also recommended that the U.N. further investigate violations of international humanitarian law by those on both sides of the conflict: Israeli forces, Hamas, and other Palestinian militants.[10][14] In April 2011, WikiLeaks released documents indicating that United States Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice contacted Ban on 4 May 2009 and successfully pressured him into rejecting Martin's recommendation for the far-reaching investigation.[10][14][15] The United Nations Human Rights Council had by then redefined the scope of the investigation it had mandated and established the United Nations Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict headed by Richard Goldstone.[10]


Martin was named Special Adviser to the Secretary-General on Post-Conflict Planning for Libya in April 2011 and was responsible for coordinating various agencies, funds, and programmes of the United Nations as well as consulting with the International Organization for Migration and the World Bank.[2] During this work in Libya, he visited Benghazi and consulted the National Transitional Council.[2]

Martin was the Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of the United Nations Support Mission in Libya from 11 September 2011 until 17 October 2012 when he was succeeded by Tarek Mitri.[2] With Georg Charpentier as his Deputy, he led a staff of 200 tasked to assist with a range of duties including electoral assistance and police training.[16] On 10 May 2012 Martin told the United Nations Security Council that there were credible reports of loyalists to toppled leader Muammar Gaddafi being mistreated and even tortured to death in detention centres under the transitional government's control.[17] In April 2012, a bomb was thrown at a convoy in which he was travelling.[18] On 8 August 2012 Martin was present in Tripoli as the National Transitional Council handed over power to the General National Congress.[19]


In 2003, he was given an honorary doctorate by the University of Essex.[1]

Martin was also Vice President of the International Center for Transitional Justice from 2002 to 2005.[1][2] He has lectured on human rights at universities including Harvard Law School[20] and his writings include Self-Determination in East Timor: the United Nations, the Ballot, and International Intervention.[1][2]


Martin has supported the International Commission of Jurists's conclusion that war crimes and acts of genocide had been committed by the Pakistan Army and its collaborators during the Bangladesh Liberation War.[3] In supporting a trial for war crimes by the International Crimes Tribunal, he has voiced the opinion that the process must be free of political pressures.[3]

Martin is opposed to the death penalty and has campaigned against its use worldwide.[3][21]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r "Honorary Graduates; Orations and responses; Ian Martin". www.essex.ac.uk. University of Essex. 3 April 2003. Retrieved 14 December 2012.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p Information and Communications Technology Division/DFS. "Mission Leadership". UNSMIL: United Nations Support Mission In Libya. New York: United Nations. Retrieved 16 December 2012.
  3. ^ a b c d Haque, Syed Ashfaqul; Julfikar Ali Manik (26 March 2011). "Try war criminals, ensure justice". The Daily Star. Retrieved 16 December 2012.
  4. ^ a b c Amnesty International (31 March 2011). "BIOGRAPHIES of FORMER SECRETARIES GENERAL" (pdf). Retrieved 16 December 2012.
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h "Ian Martin is in Sri Lanka today". Asian Tribune. 8 October 2008. Retrieved 16 December 2012.
  6. ^ Amnesty International Reports 1987-1993
  7. ^ a b Hopgood, Stephen (2006). "Politics and Democratic Authority". Keepers of the Flame: Understanding Amnesty International. Ithaca, New York: Cornell University Press. pp. 96, 121–125. ISBN 978-0-8014-7251-0. Retrieved 16 December 2012.
  8. ^ a b Sangraula, Bikash (29 October 2005). "Ian Martin defends Nepal's independent media". Asian Tribune. Retrieved 16 December 2012.
  9. ^ International Crisis Group (14 June 2007). "A Short History of Impugnity: The Ceasefire and Human Rights". SRI LANKA’S HUMAN RIGHTS CRISIS Asia Report N°135 – 14 June 2007 (pdf). International Crisis Group. p. 6. Retrieved 17 December 2012.
  10. ^ a b c d Lynch, Colum (18 April 2011). "Special Relationship". Foreign Policy. Washington, D.C. Retrieved 16 December 2012.
  11. ^ "Ban sends report of UN probe into Gaza incidents to Security Council". UN News Centre. 5 May 2009. Retrieved 17 December 2012.
  13. ^ Lynch, Colum (2009-05-06). "U.N. Inquiry Finds Israel Purposely Fired on School in Gaza". Washington Post. Retrieved 13 December 2012.
  14. ^ a b Lynch, Colum (19 November 2012). "Special Relationship". Foreign Policy. Washington, D.C. Retrieved 16 December 2012.
  15. ^ "AMBASSADOR RICE'S MAY 4 TELCONS WITH UN SECRETARY-GENERAL ON GAZA BOARD OF INQUIRY REPORT". Washington Post. Washington, D.C. Retrieved 17 December 2012.
  16. ^ Graham, Dave (19 September 2007). "Britain's Ian Martin named head of U.N. Libya mission". Reuters. Retrieved 17 December 2012.
  17. ^ Nichols, Michelle (10 May 2012). "U.N. says three Libya prisoners likely tortured to death". Reuters. Retrieved 17 December 2012.
  18. ^ Al-Tommy, Mohammed (11 June 2012). "British envoy's convoy ambushed in Libya, two wounded". Reuters. Retrieved 17 December 2012.
  19. ^ Karadsheh, Jomana (9 August 2012). "Libya's transitional council hands over power". CNN. Retrieved 16 December 2012.
  20. ^ Human Rights Program@Harvard Law School. "Edward A. Smith Lectures". Harvard Law School. Retrieved 17 December 2012.
  21. ^ Langer, Gary (18 February 1987). "Amnesty International Initiates Campaign Against Death Penalty". The Associated Press. AP. Retrieved 17 December 2012.

External links[edit]

Party political offices
Preceded by
Dianne Hayter
General Secretary of the Fabian Society
1982 – 1985
Succeeded by
John Willman
Non-profit organization positions
Preceded by
Thomas Hammarberg
Secretary-General of Amnesty International
Succeeded by
Pierre Sané