Maria Leissner

Ambassador Maria Leissner has broad experience of international diplomacy and currently serves as Coordinator for the Swedish Foreign Ministry’s Drive for Democracy.

She was Ambassador to Sierra Leone, Benin, Cote d’Ivoire, Gambia, Guinea and Senegal 2017 – 2021, Ambassador to Guatemala 2000-2004 and Ambassador-at-Large for Democracy at the Ministry 2006-2012. From 2012-2017 she was Secretary-General of the intergovernmental organization Community of Democracies.

Leissner headed an international governance program in Baghdad in Iraq 2004-2005 and 2005-2006 she worked in Indonesia as Senior Adviser for human rights with AMM, the AcehMonitoring Mission.

Leissner was a member of the Swedish parliament in 1985-1991, serving on its Committee on Foreign Affairs and the governmental Delegation on Disarmament. She led the Swedish Liberal party between 1995 and 1997, the first woman to hold the office. Between 1991 and 1994 she presided the Swedish Committee for Afghanistan and the foundation Women Can. She has also served as Chair of the Swedish Delegation for Roma Issues 2006-2010, engaging in dialogue with the community on the struggles faced and preservation of its cultural heritage and language.

Geographic expertise

  • Central America
  • West Africa and Sahel
  • Afghanistan
  • Indonesia
  • Iraq

Topical expertise

  • Democracy
  • Human rights
  • Minority policy
  • Leadership and management
  • Security policy
  • Disarmament


  • Swedish
  • English
  • French
  • Spanish


How can the EU, Sweden and FBA strengthen Moldova?

Following the war in Ukraine, defense and security issues are high on the agenda for the Swedish EU presidency. A process has been launched to investigate how the EU can contribute to strengthen resilience in the neighboring country of Moldova. Hear more about the country's challenges directly from Minister of the Interior Ana Revenco, who visited FBA in January.

2023-02-01 10:01

On international deployment

Read our publications

From Hubris to Irrelevance: The Demise of the Western State-building Project

The unceremonious collapse in 2021 of the Western-driven state-building process in Afghanistan appears to have sounded the death knell for the broader state-building concept.

Mark Sedra, FBA


FBA has both increased and adapted its work in Ukraine in the wake of Russia's invasion.

The War in Ukraine – How FBA is Assisting

FBA has both increased and adapted its work in Ukraine in the wake of Russia's invasion.

FBA in Ukraine
Porträtt av Carl Fredrik Birkoff

Carl Fredrik Birkoff

Carl Fredrik Birkoff is our expert on eastern Europe

More about our experts

Upcoming courses


Our partner countries

FBA is part of Sweden’s development aid within the area of peace and security

Read more about the countries where we work