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University Relations

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Nov. 7, 2005
Contact: Diane Fourny, Humanities and Western Civilization, (785) 864-3011.

United Nations Foundation senior adviser to speak on 'Controversy and Opportunity'

LAWRENCE -- A top advocate on the relationship between the United States and the United Nations will explore the controversy and opportunity surrounding the two entities in a talk at the University of Kansas.

Gillian Martin Sorensen, senior adviser at the United Nations Foundation, will speak about "The United Nations and the United States: Controversy and Opportunity" at 8 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 29, in Woodruff Auditorium of the Kansas Union. She will take part in a press conference from 4:30 to 5:30 p.m. Nov. 29 in the Centennial Room of the Kansas Union. The talk is sponsored by the Peace and Conflict Studies program within the Humanities and Western Civilization program.

Sorensen is a national advocate on matters related to the United Nations and the United States-United Nations relationship. She has spoken to staff and members of Congress, the Air Force Academy and university students on topics such as the U.S. and U.N., human rights and current affairs, civil society, women, the future of the U.N. and U.N. reform and the U.N. and faith-based organizations.

Sorensen has had a long career with the United Nations. From 1997 to 2003, she served as assistant secretary-general for external relations on appointment by Secretary-General Kofi Annan. She worked in outreach to civil society, including nongovernmental organizations, throughout the world. She was the contact point for Annan in relations between the U.N. and parliamentarians, the academic world, religious leaders and other groups. She also had a role in the secretary-general's communications strategy and schedule planning.

Before working for Annan, Sorensen served from 1993 to 1996 as special adviser for public policy to then-Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali. Among her duties, she directed the U.N.'s worldwide 50th anniversary celebration in 1995. She led the planning of conferences, debates, documentaries, concerts and exhibits and the coordination of the UN50 Summit at headquarters in New York, which was attended by 180 presidents and prime ministers.

From 1978 to 1990, Sorensen served on appointment by Mayor Edward I. Koch as New York City Commissioner for the U.N. and Consular Corps. In the role, she was involved in matters regarding diplomatic security and immunity, housing and education. She also helped secure federal reimbursement to New York for costs of diplomatic protection, which continues today.

Sorensen's work has crossed into the academic field as well. In 2002, while on leave of absence from the U.N., she was a Fellow at the Kennedy School of Government (Institute of Politics) at Harvard University.

Sorensen is a graduate of Smith College and studied at the Sorbonne. She is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, the Women's Forum and the Women's Foreign Policy Group. She has served as a board member of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting on appointment by the president of the United States. She has also been active in politics, serving as a delegate to three national presidential conventions.

The United Nations Foundation has a mission of promoting a more peaceful, prosperous and just world through the support of the U.N. and its charter. The foundation engages in four primary activities to achieve its mission: grant making, strengthening U.N. institutions and encouraging support for the U.N. and its causes, outreach efforts to educate the public about the U.N.'s role in global issues and raising new funds to support U.N. programs and purposes.

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The University of Kansas is a major comprehensive research and teaching university. University Relations is the central public relations office for KU's Lawrence campus.

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