Ambassador, Permanent Representative of Colombia to the United Nations
María Emma Mejía Vélez
María Emma Mejía is a Colombian journalist and diplomat with broad experience in international affairs. She has held various senior positions in the government for over the course of the past two decades. Likewise, she has devoted much of her career to the issues of peace and relations between the Latin American countries.
Ambassador Mejía is a journalist from the University del Valle, with studies at the Universidad Pontificia Bolivariana. She also took the film director and production course at the BBC, later linking the Latin American radio service to that entity.
Her first public office was the direction of the National Film Fund, Focine, where she managed to strengthen national film production as well as partnerships through Latin American co-productions.
In 1987, she joined the communications team in the campaign of presidential candidate Luis Carlos Galán. After his assassination, she was appointed as Secretary General of the Presidential Campaign of César Gaviria. After his election, she served as the Presidential Advisor to Medellín from 1990 to 1993. She went to the zones most stigmatized by the influence of the Medellin cartel to offer various opportunities for youth recovery with a social reintegration project that earned her national recognition.
In 1993 she was appointed Ambassador of Colombia in Spain, the first woman to hold this position. In 1995 she returned to the country as Minister of Education, where she excelled in the development and implementation of the first Ten-Year Education Plan and the publication of the Manual for Being a Child, written by Gabriel García Márquez.
In 1996, she became Minister of Foreign Affairs, in the exercise of this position she became the first (and so far only) female Minister Delegate with Presidential Duties in January 1998.
In 1996, as Foreign Minister, as part of the fifty-first session of the UN General Assembly, she chaired the meeting commemorating the 35th anniversary of the creation of the movement of non -aligned countries, NAM.
In 1999, she participated as one of the negotiators in the nascent peace process with the FARC. She was also a member of the Civilian Facilitating Commission for the peace talks between the government and the ELN.
Since 1999, she has been a member of the Advisory Committee on Foreign Affairs of the Government of Colombia.
Between 2003 and 2011, she was Chief Executive Officer of the Barefoot Foundation, created by Colombian singer Shakira and served on its Board of Directors until 2014.
In 2011, she was appointed by the Heads of State of the Union of South American Nations, Unasur, as Secretary General, based in Quito, Ecuador.
She has served on the boards of philanthropic foundations, in the Reflection Group which advises the Secretary- General of the OAS and was Head of the OAS and Unasur Electoral Observation Missions in Paraguay in 2009, Costa Rica in 2010 and Ecuador in 2013.
She worked as a journalist for the news magazine programs Protagonistas del siglo, Entérate con María Emma y El Radar, for Caracol TV.