Sadako Ogata was named co-chair of the Commission on Human Security in June 2001 and special representative of the Japanese prime minister for Afghanistan assistance in November 2001. She has also served since May 2001as a scholar-in-residence at the Ford Foundation in New York City. These appointments follow Mrs. Ogata’s distinguished career as United Nations high commissioner for refugees, a post to which she was first elected in December 1990 for a three-year term beginning January 1, 1991. She was reelected on November 4, 1993, for a further period of five years (January 1994 to December 1998). On September 29, 1998, Mrs. Ogata was elected high commissioner for refugees a third time for the period January 1999 to December 2000.
The Commission on Human Security, which Mrs. Ogata helped organize and now co-chairs with Professor Amartya Sen, Nobel Laureate in economics and Master of Trinity College, Cambridge, responds to United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s call at the Millennium Summit to broaden the world’s view of peace and security to include the "freedom from want” and the "freedom from fear.” Under her leadership and that of Prof. Sen joined by ten commissioners from throughout the world, the Commission on Human Security will promote wider international acceptance of human security and its underlying imperatives, develop the concept of human security as an operational tool for policy formulation and implementation, identify critical and pervasive threats to human security, and propose action to result in practical improvements.
In her long service to the international community, Mrs. Ogata has been the independent expert of the United Nations Commission on Human Rights on the Human Rights Situation in Myanmar (1990); the representative of Japan on the United Nations Commission on Human Rights (1982 to 1985); and chairman of the Executive Board of UNICEF (1978 to 1979). In 1978 and 1979, she was envoy extraordinary and minister plenipotentiary at the Permanent Mission of Japan to the United Nations, having served as minister there from 1976 to 1978. She was delegate of Japan to the 23rd, 25th, 30th, 31st, 32nd, and 33rd sessions of the United Nations General Assembly and also to the Tenth Special Session devoted to disarmament.
During a distinguished academic career, Mrs. Ogata served as dean of the Faculty of Foreign Studies at Sophia University in Tokyo in 1989. From 1987 to 1988, she directed the Institute of International Relations at the university, where she had also been a professor since 1980. From 1974 to 1976, she served as associate professor of diplomatic history and international relations at the International Christian University in Tokyo. From 1965 to 1974, she lectured in international relations at the International Christian University and at the University of the Sacred Heart, also in Tokyo.
Mrs. Ogata received a doctorate in political science from the University of California at Berkeley in 1963, a master’s degree in international relations from Georgetown University in 1953, and a bachelor of arts degree from the University of the Sacred Heart in Tokyo in 1951.
Born on September 16, 1927, in Tokyo, Japan, Mrs. Ogata is married and has a son and a daughter. Her husband, Shijuro Ogata, studied at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University as a Fulbright fellow from 1954 to 1956.