The Department of Operational Support is currently led by Under-Secretary-General Mr. Atul Khare. The Department has three Assistant-Secretary Generals: Ms. Lisa M. Buttenheim for Support Operations, Mr. Christian Saunders for Supply Chain Management, and Mr. Bernardo Mariano Jr. for Information and Communications Technology. All had long senior careers with the United Nations and bring to their positions vast political and diplomatic experience.

RSCE/Kelly StrunkUnder-Secretary-General Dr. Atul Khare delivered a town hall to the United Nations Entebbe Support Base (UNESB) in front of the Regional Training and Conference Centre, Entebbe.

Atul Khare

Under-Secretary-General for Operational Support

Mr. Atul Khare became the Under-Secretary-General for Operational Support on 1 Jan 2019. He was previously appointed Under-Secretary-General for Field Support on 2 March 2015.

Mr. Khare brings to the position strategic management and innovative reform expertise in both headquarters and field perspective. Most recently, he co-chaired the Secretary-General’s internal review on Management Reform, one of his key change initiatives to improve the effectiveness of mandate delivery and to enhance transparency and accountability within the Organisation. Mr. Khare has had a long senior career with the United Nations. In 2010-11, he served as Assistant Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations and Deputy Head of the Department of Peacekeeping Operations in New York. He was later appointed as Assistant Secretary-General in the Change Management Team (2011-2012).

Mr. Khare was previously Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Timor-Leste and Head of the United Nations Integrated Mission in Timor-Leste (UNMIT) at the level of Under-Secretary-General (2006-2009), working earlier as Chief of Staff and Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General with the United Nations Mission of Support in East Timor (UNMISET).

Former Director of The Nehru Centre and Minister (Culture), High Commission of India in London (2005-2006), Mr. Khare served during his tenure with the Indian Foreign Service in its diplomatic missions in France, Mauritius, Senegal, Thailand and the United Kingdom as well as the Permanent Mission of India to the United Nations in New York.

Mr. Khare holds bachelor’s degrees in Medicine and Surgery from the All India Institute of Medical Sciences as well as master’s degrees in Business Administration and Leadership from the University of Southern Queensland, Australia.


ASG Field Support Lisa Buttenheim

UN Photo/Paulo FilguierasAssistant Secretary-Genral Lisa M. Buttenheim at a Security Council meeting at UN Headquarters in New York.

Lisa M. Buttenheim

Assistant Secretary-General for Support Operations

Before assuming her current appointment as Assistant Secretary-General for Support Operations in the Department of Operational Support on 1 Jan 2019, Ms. Buttenheim was the Assistant Secretary-General in the Department of Field Support. Previously, she served as Secretary-General’s Special Representative and Head of the United Nations Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP).

She brings to her current of position of Assistant Secretary-General more than 30 years of experience with the United Nations in political affairs and peacekeeping, both at Headquarters and in field operations. Ms. Buttenheim has held numerous senior-level positions, including Director of the Middle East and West Asia Division and Director of the Asia and Pacific Division in the Department of Political Affairs (2008-2010). She served as Director of the Asia and Middle East Division in the Department of Peacekeeping Operations (2004-2007) and as Director and Head of the United Nations Office in Belgrade (2003-2004).

Since joining the United Nations in 1983, Ms. Buttenheim has served as Senior Political Adviser in the Office of the Director-General, United Nations Office at Geneva (1997-2003). She held assignments as Chief of Staff, Office of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General in the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo, and as Director and Senior Adviser in the Office of the Special Envoy for the Balkans in Geneva. She also held positions in the Executive Office of the Secretary-General as well as the Office of the Under-Secretaries-General for Special Political Affairs in New York, and the United Nations Truce Supervision Organization in Jerusalem.

Ms. Buttenheim holds a master’s degree in International Economics and Middle East Studies from the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies, in Washington, D.C., and a bachelor’s degree in Political Science and English, from Stanford University in Palo Alto, California.


ASG Christian Saunders

Assistant Secretary-General Christian Saunders

Christian Saunders

Assistant Secretary-General for Supply Chain Management

Mr. Saunders has over thirty years of experience in international affairs, much of it focusing on delivering results and overseeing major reforms leading to improved organizational effectiveness and efficiency.  He was appointed Assistant Secretary-General of the United Nations in December 2017, with responsibility for Central Support Services, including procurement, real estate and commercial services. On January 1, 2019, Mr. Saunders was appointed to the role of Assistant Secretary-General for Supply Chain Management. Later in 2019, United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres appointed him as Acting Commissioner-General of United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) following allegations of mismanagement by the agency’s leadership. He was tasked with reforming the agency and setting it on a new path and has only recently returned to New York after completion of this special assignment.  

Prior to this, Mr. Saunders held various senior managerial positions with the United Nations and United Nations Population Fund at Headquarters, as well as positions in the field with UNRWA, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and peacekeeping. Prior to joining the United Nations, Mr. Saunders worked for the Save the Children Fund in the Sudan and Mozambique. 

Mr. Saunders is a graduate of Royal Holloway College, the University of London, and the University of Wales in the United Kingdom. He is married, with three children and lives in Greenwich, Connecticut.


ASG Atefeh Riazi

Assistant Secretary-General Bernardo Mariano Jr.

Bernardo Mariano Jr.

Assistant Secretary-General for Information and Communications Technology

United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres announced the appointment of Bernardo Mariano Jr. of Mozambique as Chief Information Technology Officer (CITO), Assistant Secretary-General, Office of Information and Communications Technology (OICT), on 1 June 2021. His term began 1 August 2021.

Mr. Mariano brings to the position 28 years of experience within the United Nations system and international organizations, most recently serving as the Chief Information Officer and Director for Digital Health and Innovation at the World Health Organization (WHO), where he led the organization’s digital transformation journey, leveraging digital technologies and innovations to accelerate the achievement of WHO strategic goals.

He started his career in 1993 with International Organization for Migration (IOM) in Mozambique and continued with IOM in Haiti, Mali, Angola, Kenya, Kosovo, and South Africa in addition to Geneva, Switzerland before joining WHO in 2018.

Mr. Mariano served as IOM Senior Regional Adviser for Sub-Saharan Africa (2017-2018), Regional Director for Southern Africa (2009-2015) and served as IOM Chief Information Officer (2015-2017, 2002-2011). During this tenure, he championed several business transformation initiatives, driving innovations in operation and management systems, Enterprise Resource Planning systems, information technology, project management and network infrastructure.

He holds a Master of Science in Global Management from Salford University (United Kingdom) and a Bachelor of Science degree in Electrical Engineering from the Eduardo Mondlane University in Mozambique.