From 1990 to 1992, Mr. McNamara served in the United Nations efforts to restore peace and security in Cambodia, first as Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Humanitarian Assistance for Kampuchea, based in Bangkok, from 1990; and then as the Director of the Human Rights component of the United Nations Transitional Authority in Cambodia (UNTAC) from 1992.
He began his career at the United Nations in 1975 with the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), serving as Chief of South and South-East Asia Section, and Deputy-Director of the Division of Refugee Law and Doctrine from 1987, before he was given the above-mentioned assignments.
In 1994, he returned to the United Nations Office in Geneva to become the Director of the Division of International Protection of the UNHCR. In 1999, he became the Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General in Kosovo as well as UNHCR's Special Envoy to the former Yugoslavia from April 1999 until July 2000. Mr. McNamara later became the Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General in East Timor in 2001, Inspector General of UNHCR's Special Envoy to Iraq in 2003, and, Special Adviser to the United Nations Emergency Relief Coordinator in 2004. In March 2006, he was appointed Director of the Inter-Agency Division on Displacement in the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).
This interview was conducted on 16 February 1998, while Mr. McNamara was the Director of the Division of International Protection in UNHCR. Here he discussed the role he played in UNTAC; the difficulty of the often marginalized humanitarian component of United Nations missions; his work with the United Nations Civilian Police (CIVPOL) in Cambodia; and the challenges of working to restore peace in an area racked with civil war.