Birhanu Dinka

Birhanu Dinka, Diplomat



What Happened:

Birhanu Dinka, the highly-praised diplomat and peace negotiator, joined the spotlight in his death. The career diplomat had been serving within the Ethiopian diplomatic circle since the times of the Dergue. His career lasted over 27 years. His career was full of events, caused both by the internal politics ofEthiopiaas well as the changing global political economy. Birhanu is said to be well-versed with political economy as he earned degrees in political science and economics from universities inUnited StatesandEthiopia. His initial posts within the diplomatic circle involved as officer in the Ethiopian Embassies based inLiberia,EgyptandUnited States. He also served as Ambassador toDjibouti; Permanent Representative to the United Nations inNew York; Ambassador toCanada; UN Special Envoy toSierra Leone; UN Special Representative to the Great Lakes Region; and UN Special Representative toBurundi. Peace talks held inTanzania,Zambia, Democratic Republic of Congo, Darfur andNigeriaare some of the events that he participated as a UN Under Secretary-General.


When It Happened:


Birhanu died on July 8, 2013, inNew Yorkafter a struggle with Cancer.


What to Know:


Birhanu is born inWellegaProvince, on June 4, 1935.  He became Ambassador first in 1975 as head of the Department for Africa & Middle East at the  MoFA. His first overseas appointment as Ambassador of Djibouti came in 1980. Between 1984 and 1986, Birhanu served on two diplomatic posts inNorth America. His international acclaim came after he joined the United Nations, wherein his served in different position, lastly as an Under Secretary-General. Birhanu’s influence in the contemporary stability ofAfricais significant. He is a highly-praised peace negotiator with immense knowledge about the economic and political interests of each of the negotiating parties. Before his death, Birhanu was dealing with the truth and reconciliation effort inKenyathat was meant to create harmony inKenyaafter the bloody post-election crisis of 2008.




The years 1975, 1980, 1989 and 2004 have important meanings in the life of Birhanu. It was in 1975 that Birhanu obtained his Ambassadorship post within the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The year 1980 brought Birhanu his first overseas appointment toDjibouti. It was, however, in 1989 that Birhanu joined the United Nations. As the height of his diplomatic career, Birhanu become UN Under Secretary-General in 2004.


Personal Highlight:


Birhanu is said to be a humble figure.  The toughest of his career came in 1986 as he was recalled from his post as Ambassador to United Statesand Canadato eventually got arrested by the military regime. He was arrested along with other 87 political prisoners. He was released due to the push from the USPresident of the time, Jimmy Carter.

In Hindsight:


As UN Under Secretary-General, according to latest figures, Birhanu used to be paid 113,000 dollars per annum.

Published on Sep, 08, 2013 [ Vol 14 ,No 697]



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