Deborah Lyons is a diplomat with 25 years of experience in international relations, political affairs, security management, and development.
Ms. Lyons previously served as Ambassador of Canada to Israel (2016 to 2020), Ambassador of Canada to Afghanistan (2013 to 2016), and Deputy Ambassador of Canada to the United States (2010 to 2013). She also held several senior positions at Global Affairs Canada, Natural Resources Canada, the Privy Council Office, and the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency. Prior to joining the Government of Canada, she owned and managed an environmental consulting firm.
From 2020 to 2022, Ms. Lyons served as the United Nations (UN) Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Afghanistan and Head of the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan. During this time, she spearheaded the UN’s support for peace efforts in Afghanistan, championed increased regional co-operation, led preparations for the successful 2020 Afghanistan donor conference, and oversaw the UN’s continued operations after the Taliban takeover in August 2021. She also advocated for measures to stabilize the region’s macroeconomic environment, which had been shaken by sanctions, facilitated sustained international engagement, and served as a strong and visible advocate for the rights of all Afghans.
For her work in Afghanistan, Ms. Lyons was recognized by the Community of Democracies with the Mark Palmer Prize during the 2019 UN General Assembly. This recognition is conferred by the non-governmental International Steering Committee of the Community of Democracies to a diplomat who has employed bold and effective means to encourage states and assist civil societies to advance democracy and human rights.
Ms. Lyons holds a Bachelor of Arts in Biology from the University of New Brunswick and completed studies at the National Defence College (now the Centre for National Security Studies).