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      Joint event held by LIBG (Liberal International British Group) and Liberal Democrat Overseas (LDO) at 6.30pm (UK time) on Monday 7 December 2020.

      Chaired by George Cunningham (Chair of LDO)

      With guest speakers David O'Sullivan and Leslie Vinjamuri


      David O'Sullivan


      David O'Sullivan served as Ambassador of the European Union Delegation to the United States from November 2014 until February 2019.

      Prior to his appointment as Ambassador, he was the Chief Operating Officer of the EU's new diplomatic service, the 'European External Action Service'. He had previously held a number senior positions within the European Commission include Director General for Trade (2005-2010); Secretary General of the European Commission (2000-2005); and Chief of Staff to Commission President Romano Prodi (1999-2000). Before joining the Commission, he started his career with the Irish Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (1977-1979).

      He is a graduate of Trinity College, Dublin and the College of Europe (Bruges), and holds Honorary Doctorates from the Dublin Institute of Technology and Trinity College Dublin. He was awarded the EU Transatlantic Business Award by the American Chamber of Commerce in 2014. In November 2019, he joined the Brussels office of the law firm of Steptoe and Johnson LLP as a Senior Counsellor.


      Dr Leslie Vinjamuri

      Dr Leslie Vinjamuri is Director of the US and the Americas programme and Dean of the Queen Elizabeth II Academy for Leadership in International Affairs at Chatham House, The Royal Institute of International Affairs. She is a Reader (Associate Professor) in International Relations at SOAS University of London.


      At Chatham House, Leslie leads the Lloyd George Working Group on World Order (with Charles A. Kupchan), the Chatham House US 2020 Election Series, and the US-China and Transatlantic Relations Project (with Marianne Petsinger-Schneider). In her capacity as Dean, she oversees our fellowship programme and our Next Generation UK work. Leslie writes and speaks about America's role in the world, human rights and global governance.


      Her book, Human Rights Futures (edited with Jack Snyder and Stephen Hopgood) was published by Cambridge University Press in 2017. She has also published numerous articles in leading journals of international affairs and is a regular contributor to the international news media.
      Leslie is a Commissioner for the Marshall Aid Commemoration Commission, a Member of the Council on Foreign Relations, on the Board of Advisors of the Institute for Integrated Transitions, and on the Advisory Board of LSE IDEAS. From 2015-18, Leslie was a member of the Council (a 'trustee') of Chatham House, the Royal Institute of International Affairs.


      Previously, Leslie worked in the Asia and Near East Bureau at the US Agency for International Development, and for the Congressional Research Service. She was a fellow at Harvard University's John M Olin Institute for Strategic Studies and later on the faculty of Georgetown University's School of Foreign Service. From 2010-2018 she founded, and later was Director of the Centre on Conflict, Rights and Justice at SOAS University of London.


      Leslie has a BA from Wesleyan University (Phi Beta Kappa), an MSc (Distinction) from the London School of Economics, and a PhD from Columbia University.


      Chair: George Cunningham (LDO)

      George Cunningham is the Strategic Adviser on Asia-Pacific Affairs at the European External Action Service (EEAS) in Brussels, having just returned from Kabul where he had been Deputy EU Ambassador to Afghanistan (2016-18).


      He was previously EEAS Deputy Head of Division for China, Hong Kong, Macao,Taiwan and Mongolia (2012-16); Chargéd'Affaires a.i. of the European Union's Delegationto New Zealand (2007-12); Coordinator for bilateral trade relations with the United States at the European Commission's Directorate
      General for Trade (2005-07); Head of the Accession Process and Cooperation Section at the European Commission's Delegation in Nicosia (2003-05) when Cyprus joined the EU; and Head of Press and Public Affairs and Political Counsellor at the EC's Delegation to the United Nations in New York (2000-03) during 9/11.


      He has been working 25 years for the EU across all the main files, especially foreign and security policy, public diplomacy and trade. He has particular interest in promoting social justice, fighting corruption and security sector reform.


      Before joining the European Commission, George Cunningham served as a United Nations official in New York (1987-1990) and was also an advisor on European integration to the Polish Council of Ministers in Warsaw (1992).


      At the start of a busy and varied career, he served as an officer in the British Army, and worked in marketing for British Petroleum and British Telecom. He founded and ran a non-governmental organisation PACE International Affairs, educating young people in the UK about international relations. He is a graduate from Oxford University (MA Oxon Modern History).


      During his youth, he undertook a major expedition in Africa, with the backing of African Presidents, walking 9,000 kilometres on foot from Alexandria in Egypt to Cape Town in South Africa over a period of 27 months (1979-81).


      He is a member of Chatham House in London. His book - Journey to Become a Diplomat - was published in 2005 by the Foreign Policy Association of New York. He has enjoyed encouraging youth to get involved in international affairs by lecturing at universities and spoken numerous times at the European Parliament in his professional capacity. In 2019, he also trained Gulf Cooperation Council Diplomats in Riyadh in his private capacity.


      In his political life, he is Chair of Liberal Democrats Overseas, having been Chair (2016) and Vice-Chair (2015, 2017) of Brussels and Europe Lib Dems. He stood for parliament in the 2015 UK General Election and ran the Lib Dem campaign for Brits abroad to vote in the UK EU referendum. He was a foreign policy advisor to Jo Swinson when she was Deputy Lib Dem Leader.
      George Cunningham was born in 1956. He is an EU official with dual Polish and British Citizenship, married with two children.