Sihaka Tsemo, Director, UNAIDS Liaison Office to the African Union

Sihaka Tsemo is the Director of the UNAIDS Liaison Office to the African Union. She has more than 30 years of experience working as a lawyer, scholar, manager and gender and human rights expert. Before joining UNAIDS in 2013, she worked with several United Nations agencies, including as the Regional Representative for Southern Africa for the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights. She has been instrumental in putting the interconnexion between human rights, gender-based violence and HIV high on the regional and continental agenda, advising and lending support to rights-based policies and programmes. She engaged in political negotiations in her various roles and developed strategic partnerships with United Nations regional offices and key players such as the Southern Africa Development Community, the Economic Community of West African States and the New Partnership for Africa’s Development and other regional institutions, governments and civil society organizations

She has led interagency coordination and taskforces on gender, HIV, health harmonization in Africa, human rights and humanitarian responses, as well as processes related to the adoption of the African Peer Review Mechanism, the Millennium Development Goals, United Nations reform and the Sustainable Development Goals.

She began her career as a researcher on justice reform with the Ministry of Justice in Mozambique and her most recent position was as a Senior Fast-Track Adviser at the UNAIDS Regional Support Team for Western and Central Africa. Prior to that, she was the UNAIDS Country Director for Angola. She speaks fluent English, French, Spanish and Portuguese and intermediate creole and Kiswahili.

She is a national of Cameroon and holds two masters degrees, in penal law and institutional development, from Paris 2 Panthéon-Assas University (Sorbonne), and a PhD in criminal sciences from the University of Strasbourg.