Hester Adriana Paneras

Head of Institutional and Operational Partnership Service, UNOAU


Hester Adriana Paneras is currently the Head of Institutional and Operational Partnership Service at United Nations Office to the African Union (UNOAU), a position she has held since 14 April 2018.  In this position she is responsible for coordination and collaboration between the United Nations and the African Union on Peace Operations and related matters within the context of the UN-AU Joint Framework on Enhanced Partnership in Peace and Security.

Previously, she served in the South African Police Service for 37 years of which 20 years were in the senior leadership echelon and she retired with the rank of Brigadier General. She played a leading role during the transformation process in South Africa, and more specifically the Police, where she was responsible for the police reform processes and integration of ex-combatants into the police in the Free State Province between 1994 and 2000. As part of this process, she was responsible for the implementation of non-discrimination and management of diversity, topics that are still close to her heart.

Hester Adriana Paneras became the first women to be deployed as a Police Commissioner in a UN Peacekeeping operation when she was appointed as the Police Commissioner in the African Union United Nations Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) from 2013 to 2015. In this position she took command of more than 6000 police officers from 56 countries. She also held the position of Deputy Police Commissioner in UNAMID from 2010 to 2011.

After leaving the South African Police Service she was a Senior Researcher at the Institute for Security Studies (ISS) for two years where she focused on Peace Operations and Peace Building, including related gender and women peace and security aspects. In this position she was also responsible for collaboration with and support to the African Union on peace support operations. Hester is an experienced trainer and curriculum developer and as part of her activities at ISS, led the development of two training packages for the African Union (Police Pre-deployment Training for Individual Police Officers and Gender Mainstreaming and Dealing with SGBV in Peace Operations for Civilians, Military and Police).

Hester started serving as a member of the African Union Police Strategic Support Group in 2014 and continues to serve in that capacity. She holds a Master’s degree in Public Administration from the University of Stellenbosch, South Africa with a focus on Policy Analysis, Organizational Development, and Police Management. Her thesis was on the Disparate Effect of Past Policies, Processes and Procedures on Gender Representation in the Police. She is mentor for the UN Senior Mission Leadership Programme, a role she has fulfilled during several occasions since 2018.  She also serves on the Board of Directors for the Peace Operations Training Institute.