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


New holders of the 1325-scholarship for women, peace and security

Three new peacebuilders from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Pales-tine and Afghanistan have been selected as this year’s recipients of the schol-arship in support of UN Security Council Resolution 1325 on women, peace and security. For the first time, the scholarship, established in the memory of Zaida Catalán, is awarded to women from all three countries where Catalán worked as seconded from FBA.

2023-05-17 11:23

On international deployment

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Strategic peace mediation and dialogue efforts to shift conflict systems

When working with or in complex conflict systems, including on dialogue, peace mediation or peace process support, a critical question is how we can best contribute to positive substantive shifts in these systems. FBA’s two thematic units working with dialogue, peace mediation and peace process support have explored these issues during the last few years. During this time, Anita Ernstorfer, an expert in peacebuilding and long-standing FBA consultant, has been a key partner in this conversation.



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

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

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