Marcel A. Boisard served as Executive Director of UNITAR from March 1992 to February 2007. As of August 2001, he was also appointed, by the UN Secretary-General, as Assistant Secretary-General of the United Nations. Prior to these appointments, he occupied the position of Director of the UNITAR European Office after having joined the Institute as “Special Fellow” in June 1980. He works presently as an international consultant.
By the time of joining the United Nations, Boisard had already had a long record of international activities working with diplomatic and humanitarian missions and conducting academic research and teaching in the related fields.
He started his international career in early 1960s as a delegate of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), He was recruited as an economic adviser first by the then Directorate for Technical Cooperation of the Swiss Ministry of Foreign Affairs and later by the Government of Burundi within the framework of the negotiations on the Treaty of Yaoundé. He was appointed Chairman of the African experts (from May 1966 to May 1967) and participated in numerous meetings.
As a delegate of the ICRC, Boisard served exclusively in the field and during armed conflicts (Algeria, Yemen, the Arab Republic of Egypt, Syria, Jordan, and Saudi Arabia). He was called upon to conduct several high-level negotiations and represented ICRC in multilateral meetings. He was concretely responsible to follow up on the implementation of the Geneva Conventions in various armed conflicts of the Middle East. He was often called upon to cross the front lines between the belligerent parties, negotiate and arrange cease-fires and humanitarian truces.
From October 1975 to June 1980, Boisard was appointed Fellow of the Graduate Institute of International Studies, in Geneva. This included, notably, lecturing and conducting a major programme of research and training that dealt with the so-called “Third Basket” of the Helsinki Final Act on Security and Cooperation in Europe (culture, human rights, liberty of movement, of information and beliefs) funded by the Ford Foundation.
He was among the founders and served as Secretary-General of the International Cultural Association “Islam and the West”. During this academic period, Boisard published rather extensively: over 30 titles (books and articles) dealing mainly with international cross-cultural relations, Arab and Muslim worlds, multilateral negotiations and inter-governmental organizations.
Born in Geneva and a Swiss citizen, Boisard completed his university studies in Switzerland (Geneva), Germany (Hamburg) and the United States (Connecticut). He holds a PhD from the Graduate Institute of International Studies in Geneva.