Amara Essy

Amara Essy

Foreign Minister, Côte d'Ivoire 1990-99
Secretary General, OAU 2001
Chairman, AU Commission 2002-3

Amara Essy

Foreign Minister, Côte d’Ivoire 1990-2000
Secretary General, OAU 2001
Chairman, AU Commission 2002-3

Amara Essy is a distinguished diplomat from Côte d’Ivoire who served his country as Foreign Minister from 1990 to 2000. He was also the Secretary General of the Organisation of African Unity in 2001 and Chairman of the Commission of the African Union from 2002 to 2003.

Public Career

Amara Essy was the Foreign Minister of Côte d’Ivoire at the time of the military coup of December 1999 and was briefly detained before being replaced in the transitional government named on 4 January 2000.   He was then appointed the UN Special Envoy to the Central African Republic, the Republic of Congo, Gabon and Angola before being elected in 2001 to the post of Secretary General of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU), with the task of leading the OAU’s transformation into the African Union over the course of one year. He then served as interim Chairman of the Commission of the African Union in 2002-03, before withdrawing his candidacy for the permanent post in favour of Alpha Oumar Konaré, the former President of Mali.

Before becoming Foreign Minister of Côte d’Ivoire Amara Essy served as his country’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations. In this capacity he served as Vice-President of the forty-third session of the General Assembly from September 1988 to September 1989 and as President of the Security Council in January 1990. He was also Chairman of the “Group of 77” of developing nations in Geneva from January 1977 to January 1978.   Mr. Essy participated in many sessions of the General Assembly as well as several sectoral conferences, including the United Nations Conference on the Law of the Sea (Nairobi, Caracas, Geneva, New York, Kingston, Montego Bay), United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) IV and UNCTAD V in Nairobi and Manila respectively, the Conference of the International Year of Women in Mexico, the Conference on Codification of International Law in Vienna and many sessions, the Commission on Human Rights as well as those of the Economic and Social Council and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).   He has also participated in many international conferences held by the Organization of African Unity (OAU), the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the Non-Aligned Movement.

1975 to 1978, Mr. Essy was the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Côte d’Ivoire to the Swiss Confederation at Berne. Before this, he served as the Permanent Representative of Côte d’Ivoire to the United Nations Office in Geneva and the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) in Vienna.

1973 to 1975, Mr. Essy was a Counsellor at the Permanent Mission of Côte d’Ivoire to the United Nations in New York and served as a First Counsellor at the Embassy of Côte d’Ivoire in Brazil from 1971 to 1973.

He had become the Chief of the Division of Economic Relations at the Central Department of the foreign ministry of Côte d’Ivoire in 1970.

Mr. Essy has extensive background in conflict resolution, including conflict negotiations in Angola, Burkina Faso, Chad, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Somalia, notably negotiations in Lome, Togo between Sierra Leone rebels and the Freetown government, which led to a UN-brokered peace agreement in 1999. He also served as the personal emissary of the late Côte d’Ivoire President Houphouet Boigny to Palestinian Authority President Yasser Arafat, as well as in negotiations with South African authorities on the questions of Namibian independence and the elimination of apartheid in South Africa.

Activity after public politics

In 2009 Amara Essy was appointed the AU’s envoy to Madagascar, to assess that country’s political crisis, and in 2012 he chaired the UN High Level Panel for the Algerian legislative elections.

Amara Essy is very involved with a number of institutions in the fields of education, training and development and is currently Honorary Professor of the New England Centre for International Studies at the University of Bridgeport, Connecticut.

In recognition of his distinguished diplomatic service, Mr. Essy has been awarded numerous decorations, including the National Order of Côte d’Ivoire, the Grand Cross of the Lion (Senegal), the Grand Cross of Rio Branco (Brazil) and the National Order of San Carlos (Columbia).

Mr. Essy holds a degree in public law and a diploma of high-level studies, also in public law. He also holds a diploma from the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Switzerland.

Amara Essy became a Member of the Global Leadership Foundation in 2014.

Memberships and Associations

  • Vice President of the African Partners for Peace and Development Foundation
  • Chairman of 2iE International Institute for Water and Environmental Engineering (Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso)
  • Board Member of the World Intellectual Property Organisation
  • Board Member of the Empowering Minds Foundation Inc.
  • Board Member of the Lycée Français de New York
  • Board Member of the International Olympic Truce Centre
  • Board Member of the China Europe International Business School (CEIBS) (Shanghai / Accra)
  • Member of Executive Council of UN Institute for Training and Research
  • Member of the International Advisory Group for the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC)
  • Member of the Scientific Committee of the Téresys Foundation
  • Honorary Professor of the New England Centre for International Studies at the University of Bridgeport, Connecticut
  • Honorary Professor of the Northwest University, School of Marxism in Xi’an, China