The Baroness Amos
|United Nations Undersecretary General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator|
1 September 2010 - 29 May 2015
|British High Commissioner to Australia|
1 October 2009 - 1 September 2010
|Leader of the House of Lords|
Lord President of the Council
6 October 2003 - 27 June 2007
|The Lord Williams of Mostyn|
|The Baroness Ashton of Upholland|
|Secretary of State for International Development|
12 May 2003 - 6 October 2003
|Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs|
12 June 2001 - 12 May 2003
|Baroness Scotland of Asthal|
28 July 1998 - 11 June 2001
|Baroness Gould of Potternewton|
|Lord Bassam of Brighton|
|Member of the House of Lords |
24 September 1997
Valerie Ann Amos
13 March 1954
Georgetown, British Guiana (now Guyana)
|Alma mater||University of Birmingham|
University of Warwick
University of East Anglia
Valerie Ann Amos, Baroness Amos, (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.
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. 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, becoming the first black woman to lead a university in the United Kingdom. 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.
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.
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 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. In 2019 she co-led a report by Universities (UUK) and the National Union of Students (NUS) addressing the disparity between the proportion of 'top degrees' (first or 2:1 degrees) achieved by white and black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) students.
Amos was elevated to the peerage in August 1997 as Baroness Amos, of Brondesbury in the London Borough of Brent. 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.
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.
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. 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.
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). Amos took up the position in October 2009.
In 2010 United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon announced Amos's appointment as Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator. 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.
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. 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.
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." 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.
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."
In July 2018, Baroness Amos received an honorary Doctor of Laws degree from the University of Bristol.
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 match at Old Trafford in May 2008.
After resigning from the cabinet, Baroness Amos took up a directorship with Travant Capital, a Nigerian private equity fund launched in 2007. 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 company). The decision to invest in Travant by CDC was taken before Amos was appointed to the board of Travant.[deprecated source]
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.
| Secretary of State for International Development
Lord Williams of Mostyn
| Leader of the House of Lords
Baroness Ashton of Upholland
| Lord President of the Council|
|Party political offices|
Lord Williams of Mostyn
| Leader of the Labour Party in the House of Lords
Baroness Ashton of Upholland
| British High Commissioner to Australia
|Positions in intergovernmental organisations|
John Holmes ()
| Undersecretary General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator
Stephen O'Brien ()