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Valerie Ann Amos, Baroness Amos, CH, PC (born 13 March 1954) is a British Labour Party politician and diplomat who served as the eighth UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator. Before her appointment to the UN, she served as British High Commissioner to Australia. She was created a life peer in 1997, becoming Leader of the House of Lords and Lord President of the Council.

The Baroness Amos

Valerie Amos DFID 2013.jpg
United Nations Undersecretary General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator
In office
1 September 2010 – 29 May 2015
Secretary-GeneralBan Ki-moon
Preceded byJohn Holmes
Succeeded byStephen O'Brien
British High Commissioner to Australia
In office
1 October 2009 – 1 September 2010
MonarchElizabeth II
Prime MinisterGordon Brown
David Cameron
Preceded byHelen Liddell
Succeeded byPaul Madden
Leader of the House of Lords
Lord President of the Council
In office
6 October 2003 – 27 June 2007
Prime MinisterTony Blair
Preceded byThe Lord Williams of Mostyn
Succeeded byThe Baroness Ashton of Upholland
Secretary of State for International Development
In office
12 May 2003 – 6 October 2003
Prime MinisterTony Blair
Preceded byClare Short
Succeeded byHilary Benn
Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs
In office
12 June 2001 – 12 May 2003
Prime MinisterTony Blair
Preceded byThe Baroness Scotland of Asthal
Succeeded byChris Mullin
Government Whip
In office
28 July 1998 – 11 June 2001
Prime MinisterTony Blair
Preceded byThe Baroness Gould of Potternewton
Succeeded byThe Lord Bassam of Brighton
Member of the House of Lords
Lord Temporal
Assumed office
24 September 1997
Life peerage
Personal details
Valerie Ann Amos

(1954-03-13) 13 March 1954 (age 65)
Georgetown, British Guiana (now Guyana)
Political partyLabour
Alma materUniversity of Birmingham
University of Warwick
University of East Anglia

When Amos was appointed Secretary of State for International Development on 12 May 2003, following the resignation of Clare Short, she became the first black woman to sit in the Cabinet of the United Kingdom. She left the Cabinet when Gordon Brown became Prime Minister. In July 2010 Secretary-General of the United Nations Ban Ki-moon announced Baroness Amos's appointment to the role of Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator.[1] She took up the position on 1 September 2010 and remained in post until 29 May 2015. In September 2015 Amos was appointed Director of SOAS, University of London,[2] becoming the first black woman to lead a university in the United Kingdom.[3] In 2019, it was announced that Amos will become the first-ever black head of an Oxford college, University College, from 1 August 2020, succeeding Sir Ivor Crewe.[4][5]

Early lifeEdit

Amos was born in British Guiana (now Guyana) in South America and attended Bexley Technical High School for Girls (now Townley Grammar School), Bexleyheath, where she was the first black deputy head girl. She completed a degree in Sociology at the University of Warwick (1973–76), and also later took courses in cultural studies at the University of Birmingham and the University of East Anglia.

Chief Executive of the Equal Opportunities CommissionEdit

After working in Equal Opportunities, Training and Management Services in local government in the London boroughs of Lambeth, Camden and Hackney, Amos became Chief Executive of the Equal Opportunities Commission 1989–94.

In 1995 Amos co-founded Amos Fraser Bernard and was an adviser to the South African government on public service reform, human rights and employment equity.

Amos during the WEF 2013

Other positionsEdit

Amos has also been Deputy Chair of the Runnymede Trust (1990–98), a Trustee of the Institute for Public Policy Research, a non-executive Director of the University College London Hospitals Trust, a Trustee of Voluntary Service Overseas, Chair of the Afiya Trust, Member of the board of the Sierra Leone Titanium Resources Group, a director of Hampstead Theatre and Chair of the Board of Governors of the Royal College of Nursing Institute.

In September 2015 she became the ninth director of SOAS University of London, she is the first woman of African descent to be director of an institute of higher education in Great Britain.[6][3]

House of LordsEdit

Amos was elevated to the peerage in August 1997 as Baroness Amos, of Brondesbury in the London Borough of Brent.[7][8] In the House of Lords she was a co-opted member of the Select Committee on European Communities Sub-Committee F (Social Affairs, Education and Home Affairs) 1997–98. From 1998 to 2001 she was a Government Whip in the House of Lords and also a spokesperson on Social Security, International Development and Women's Issues as well as one of the Government's spokespersons in the House of Lords on Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs. Baroness Amos was appointed Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Foreign & Commonwealth Affairs on 11 June 2001, with responsibility for Africa; Commonwealth; Caribbean; Overseas Territories; Consular Issues and FCO Personnel. She was replaced by Chris Mullin.

International Development Secretary and Leader of the House of LordsEdit

Baroness Amos was made International Development Secretary after the incumbent, Clare Short, resigned from the post in the run-up to the US and UK 2003 invasion of Iraq. Although she ostensibly worked in development, she toured African countries that held rotating membership of the Security Council, encouraging them to support the attack.

Baroness Amos was appointed Leader of the House of Lords on 6 October 2003, following the death of Lord Williams of Mostyn, which meant that her tenure as Secretary of State for International Development lasted less than six months.

On 17 February 2005, the British Government nominated Lady Amos to head the United Nations Development Programme.[9]

Non-Governmental rolesEdit

Baroness Amos left the cabinet when Gordon Brown took over as Prime Minister from Tony Blair in June 2007. Brown proposed her as the European Union special representative to the African Union.[10] However, Belgian career diplomat Koen Vervaeke was appointed to this role instead. She was a member of the Committee on Commonwealth Membership, which presented its report on potential changes in membership criteria for the Commonwealth of Nations at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting 2007 in Kampala, Uganda.

On 8 October 2008 it was reported that Amos was to join the Football Association's management board for England's bid to host the 2018 World Cup. This was described as a "surprise appointment", since she has no recorded interest in football (despite her interest in cricket) or any experience in similar work such as the 2012 Olympics bid.[11]

British High Commissioner to AustraliaEdit

On 4 July 2009 it was advised that Baroness Amos had been appointed British High Commissioner to Australia in succession to Helen Liddell (now Baroness Liddell).[12] Amos took up the position in October 2009.[13]

UN Emergency Relief CoordinatorEdit

In 2010 United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon announced Amos's appointment as Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator.[14] In March 2012 she visited Syria on behalf of the UN to press the Syrian government to allow access to all parts of Syria to help people affected by the 2011–2012 Syrian uprising.[15]

In 2015, World Health Organization (WHO) Director General Margaret Chan appointed Amos as member of the Advisory Group on Reform of WHO's Work in Outbreaks and Emergencies with Health and Humanitarian Consequences.[16] Since 2019, Amos has been serving on the Center for Strategic & International Studies’ (CSIS) Task Force on Humanitarian Access, co-chaired by Cory Booker and Todd Young.[17]

Honours and styles of addressEdit


Lady Amos was awarded an Honorary Professorship at Thames Valley University in 1995 in recognition of her work on equality and social justice. On 1 July 2010, Amos received an honorary doctorate (Hon DUniv) from the University of Stirling in recognition of her "outstanding service to our society and her role as a model of leadership and success for women today."[18] She has also been awarded the honorary degrees of Doctor of Laws (Hon LLD) from the University of Warwick in 2000 and the University of Leicester in 2006.

At the University of Birmingham, where she studied as an undergraduate, the Guild of Students have named one of the committee rooms "The Amos Room" after her, in acknowledgement of her services to society.

Amos was appointed a Companion of the Order of the Companions of Honour (CH) in the 2016 Birthday Honours for services to the United Nations and emergency relief.[19][20]

In 2017, Baroness Amos was awarded a honorary degree at Middlesex University, thereby "recognising achievement at the highest level as well as dedication to public duty and making a difference to others' lives."[21]

In July 2018, Baroness Amos received an honorary Doctor of Laws degree from the University of Bristol.

Styles of addressEdit

  • 1954–1997: Miss Valerie Amos
  • 1997–2003: The Right Honourable The Baroness Amos
  • 2003–2009: The Right Honourable The Baroness Amos PC
  • 2009–2010: Her Excellency The Right Honourable The Baroness Amos PC
  • 2010–2016: The Right Honourable The Baroness Amos PC
  • 2016–present: The Right Honourable The Baroness Amos CH PC

Personal lifeEdit

Amos is an enthusiast of cricket and talked about her love of the game with Jonathan Agnew on Test Match Special during the lunch break of the first day of the England v. New Zealand test at Old Trafford in May 2008.[22][23]

After resigning from the cabinet, Baroness Amos took up a directorship with Travant Capital, a Nigerian private equity fund launched in 2007.[24] In the House of Lords Register of Members Interests she lists this directorship as remunerated. At launch over one third of Travant's first equity fund came from CDC (a government-owned plc). The decision to invest in Travant by CDC was taken before Amos was appointed to the board of Travant.[25]

Baroness Amos has never married and has no children. She was listed as one of "the 50 best-dressed over-50s" by The Guardian in March 2013.[26]


  1. ^ "New UN humanitarian chief among five senior officials appointed by Ban". UN News Centre. United Nations. 9 July 2010. Archived from the original on 14 May 2011. Retrieved 10 July 2010.
  2. ^ "Valerie Amos to be ninth Director of SOAS, University of London". 29 June 2015. Retrieved 1 April 2017.
  3. ^ a b "Baroness Amos: I was taken aback when I found out I was the first black female head of a university", The Observer, 19 July 2015.
  4. ^ "Baroness Valerie Amos appointed as Master of University College – First-ever black College Head appointed at Oxford". UK: University of Oxford. 2 August 2019. Retrieved 5 August 2019.
  5. ^ "Valerie Amos appointed new Master". UK: University College, Oxford. August 2019. Retrieved 5 August 2019.
  6. ^ "Valerie Amos to be ninth Director of SOAS, University of London". Retrieved 18 September 2019.
  7. ^ "No. 54906". The London Gazette. 30 September 1997. p. 11015.
  8. ^ Mosley, Charles (ed.) (2003). Burke's Peerage & Baronetage, 107th edn. London: Burke's Peerage & Gentry Ltd. p. 89 (AMOS, LP). ISBN 0-9711966-2-1.
  9. ^ "Amos nominated for senior UN job", BBC News, 17 February 2005.
  10. ^ "Amos leaves Government role for EU", Prime Minister's Office. Archived 19 July 2007 at the Wayback Machine
  11. ^ Kelso, Paul (7 October 2008). "Surprise as Baroness Amos joins 2018 World Cup bid". Daily Telegraph. London.
  12. ^ FCO Historians website
  13. ^ Change of British High Commissioner to Australia British High Commission Canberra, 26 October 2009.
  14. ^ "Secretary-General Appoints Valerie Amos of United Kingdom Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs". United Nations. 9 July 2010.
  15. ^ Siddique, Haroon (9 March 2012). "Syria live updates". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 9 March 2012.
  16. ^ Members of the Advisory Group on Reform of WHO’s Work in Outbreaks and Emergencies with Health and Humanitarian Consequences Archived 18 September 2016 at the Wayback Machine World Health Organization.
  17. ^ CSIS Task Force on Humanitarian Access Center for Strategic & International Studies (CSIS).
  18. ^ "Happiness is University shaped at Stirling’s summer graduations", University of Stirling, 9 June 2010.
  19. ^ "No. 61608". The London Gazette (Supplement). 11 June 2016. p. B27.
  20. ^ "Birthday Honours 2016: the Foreign Secretary's overseas list for the Order of the Companions of Honour, Knight Bachelor and British Empire" (PDF). GOV.UK. Retrieved 10 June 2016.
  21. ^ "Baroness Amos awarded honorary degree at Middlesex University", website of Middlesex University, 14 December 2017.
  22. ^ "TMS starts the series in style", BBC Sport, 20 May 2008.
  23. ^ "From the Commons to Lord's", BBC Sport, 7 July 2008.
  24. ^ The Board Archived 6 February 2011 at the Wayback Machine, Travant Capital.
  25. ^ Walker, Kirsty (13 January 2009). "Ex-minister Baroness Amos lands job with firm given £15m government handout". Mail Online. London.
  26. ^ Cartner-Morley, Jess; Mirren, Helen; Huffington, Arianna; Amos, Valerie (28 March 2013). "The 50 best-dressed over-50s". The Guardian. London.

External linksEdit