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Archive of Erik Jensen


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Memoranda, faxes, correspondence and reports relating to Erik Jensen's work during his time with MINURSO, including the identificaiton of Moroccan nationals and peacekeeping operations in the area.


  • Creation: Creation: Majority of material found within Bulk, 1991-1998
  • Creation: Creation: 1991-2012


6.75 Linear metres (45 boxes)

Language of Materials

  • English
  • French
  • German
  • Spanish; Castilian
  • Dutch; Flemish
  • Danish
  • Arabic
  • Russian
  • Hebrew
  • Korean
  • Bengali

Conditions Governing Access

Some material has been removed and is closed.

Preferred Citation

Oxford, Bodleian Libraries [followed by shelfmark and folio or page reference, e.g. MS. 11599/1].

Please see our help page for further guidance on citing archives and manuscripts.

Full range of shelfmarks:

MS. 11599/1-45

Collection ID (for staff)

CMD ID 11599


Correspondence and documents of Erik Jensen (b. 1933), former UN Under-Secretary-General, during his time with MINURSO (United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara).

Biographical / Historical

Erik Jensen (b. 21 December 1933) is a retired United Nations Under-Secretary-General. The son of Provost E. V. T. Jensen and his wife Karla, he was educated at St Paul’s School. He then attended Worcester College at the University of Oxford, where he gained a B.Litt in 1958 and a D.Phil in 1969. He also achieved an S.T.M from Harvard University in 1954, and was associated with Copenhagen and Heidelberg Universities.

Jensen’s first job was as an organiser and administrator for the Lemanak development scheme in Sarawak, Malaysia from 1960-63; he then went on to act as divisional development officer in the same area from 1964-66. He worked for one year (1967-8) as an Editor on the Social Development Review for the United Nations in New York before joining the Secretary-General’s mission to Nigeria during the Biafran crisis in 1968-9. Returning to New York, he pioneered measures to improve disaster relief in reports to the General Assembly, which led to the establishment of the United Nations Disaster Relief Organization (UNDRO). Following this, Jensen became Special Assistant for the Inter-Agency Affairs until 1971. During his time in this role, Jensen also took part in the Secretary-General’s 1970 mission to Bahrain in order to aid the resolution of conflicting claims to power prior to independence.

Whilst serving as the Chef de Cabinet to the United Nations Director-General in Geneva from 1971-80, Jensen continued to play an active part in international missions. From 1971-2, he was associated with the Good Offices mission to India, Pakistan and Bangladesh following East Pakistan’s break with the West, and in 1976 he took part in the Secretary-General’s mission to East Timor following the Indonesian invasion. Jensen was also a United Nations Observer at the Middle East Conference in Geneva in 1973, and again at the same conference in Cyprus in 1974. From 1980 to 1983, Jensen acted as the Director of Special Political Questions in New York, and as part of this role he led missions to places including Chad, the Central African Republic, Comoros, Djibouti, Equatorial Guinea and Guinea-Bissau. He acted as the Director of the United Nations Office in London and Representative of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in the UK and Republic of Ireland from 1983-90, and briefly taking a position as a Senior Associate Member at St Antony’s College, Oxford in 1987. From 1986-89, he was also a member of the Executive Committee of the British International Studies Association. He then went on to be Director of General Assembly Affairs for the UN in New York from 1990 to 1992, and also served as the organising secretary of the Washington Intergovernmental Conference on a Framework Convention for Climate Change in 1991.

After this position, Jensen became the Director and Deputy to the Under-Secretary-General for Public Affairs from 1992-3, also acting as an Associate Coordinator of International Cooperation for Chernobyl – in this same period, he was awarded the Order of the Crown (J.S.M) from Malaysia. He was then appointed to the Western Sahara as part of the United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO), a peacekeeping mission designed to enhance peaceful resolutions of armed disputes regarding the status of the former Spanish Sahara. Initially, he acted as the Assistant Secretary-General, and then represented the Secretary-General as Head of Mission and Under-Secretary-General from 1993-98. In 1998, he was appointed Special Adviser to the Secretary-General before his retirement in the same year.

After his retirement, he was instated as Warburg Professor in International Relations at Simmons College, Boston, as well as being an affiliate with the Olin Center for Strategic Studies at Harvard University, both of which lasted from 1998 until 2001. He was then a Visiting Fellow at the Centre of International Studies at the London School of Economics and Political Science from 2001 to 2003, and he received the Order of the Star of Sarawak in 2003. Alongside this, he acted as President of the British Association of Former United Nations Civil Servants (BAFUNCS) from 2001-7, and continued to act as Vice-President from 2008 (he remains an Honorary Vice-President). He also acted as Vice-President of the Welsh International Centre, is a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society, a sometime Fellow of the Royal Anthropological Institute of the Borneo Research Council, and a Member of the Royal Institute for International Affairs of the Southwark Association.

Jensen now lives in Gloucestershire with his wife, Pamela Marion (m. 1972). He has two children, one son and one daughter.


Original order has been preserved.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Donated by Bill Jackson in May 2015 as part of the United Nations Career Records Project.

Catalogue of the Archive of Erik Jensen
Finding aid prepared by Carys Howell
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Bodleian Libraries Repository

Weston Library
Broad Street
Oxford OX1 3BG United Kingdom