Pasadena Resident Named Envoy for Hostage Affairs

Photo courtesy U.S. State Department Pasadena resident Robert C. O’Brien (left) is sworn in as a special presidential envoy for hostage affairs by U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
Photo courtesy U.S. State Department
Pasadena resident Robert C. O’Brien (left) is sworn in as a special presidential envoy for hostage affairs by U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

Pasadena resident Robert C. O’Brien was recently appointed special presidential envoy for hostage affairs, the U.S. State Department has announced.
O’Brien’s new responsibilities under President Donald Trump entail leading U.S. efforts to negotiate the return of citizens held by foreign governments.
He will also be tasked with maintaining a dialogue with the families of hostages in coordination with the Hostage Recovery Fusion Cell.
“Mr. O’Brien is uniquely qualified to serve in this position given his extensive commitment to public service and his background in law and security,” National Security Adviser John R. Bolton said in a statement. “Mr. O’Brien will focus on leading our efforts with other countries to bring our people home by coordinating diplomatic engagements and working with the highest levels of foreign governments.
“Among his first priorities, Mr. O’Brien will ensure structured and consistent coordination with the HRFC and the White House-chaired Hostage Response Group, which coordinates interagency actions.”
O’Brien’s experience in the federal government dates to 2005, when he was appointed by President George W. Bush as the U.S.’ alternate representative to the 60th session of the United Nations General Assembly, serving with then-U.N. Ambassador Bolton.
Previously, O’Brien served as the senior legal officer for the U.N. Security Council commission that decided claims against Iraq that originated from the first Gulf War.
O’Brien, who was a major in the U.S. Army Reserve, also served as co-chairman of the State Department’s Public-Private Partnership for Justice Reform in Afghanistan during both the Bush and Obama administrations. In this role he worked to train Afghan judges, prosecutors and defense lawyers in an effort to promote the rule of law.
Bush later appointed O’Brien to the U.S. Cultural Property Advisory Committee, which advises the federal government about the trafficking of antiquities and other items of cultural significance. He served in this role from 2008-2011.
O’Brien is a Los Angeles native who graduated cum laude from UCLA with a degree in political science. He then earned a law degree from UC Berkeley.
In his private practice, Larson O’Brien LLP, he has focused on litigation and international arbitration. He has served as an arbitrator in more than 20 international proceedings in addition to being appointed by federal courts as special master in several cases.

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