Prof Ian Howie

Ian Howie, Associate Professor, Nossal Institute for Global Health, University of Melbourne and Adjunct Professor in International Studies at RMIT University, Melbourne, Australia, has spent more than 35 years working in the field of international development.  The bulk of this time was spent with the United Nations as a career official and included multi-year assignments as the United Nations Population Fund’s (UNFPA) representative in China (with responsibilities also for Mongolia and North Korea), Viet Nam, Ghana, Rwanda and Papua New Guinea. He also spent seven years at UN Headquarters, New York, following his appointment as Director, Division of Human Resources. In this capacity he undertook many missions to countries where the UN operates.  

Earlier, he served as a Chief Technical Adviser (CTA) with the International Labour Organisation (ILO) managing primary health care projects in rural Bangladesh and, following his piloting of a unique model delivering health services at village level, oversaw its adoption in the plantation sector in Sri Lanka, and in the industrial estates of Kenya and the slums of Nairobi.

During these multiple assignments, Professor Howie was the recipient of a number of national awards including distinguished service medals from Viet Nam, China and Mongolia plus a presidential citation from Ghana.

Prior to joining the United Nations, Professor Howie spent four years in the South Pacific working as a university lecturer, a trade union official and as a ministerial adviser. And, since retiring from the UN he completed a 9-month assignment in 2013 with Marie Stopes International as their Regional Advisor to Asia and the Pacific.

Currently, Professor Howie is President of the United Nations Association of Australia, Victoria Division and the Australasian Centre for Human Rights and Health. He is also on the boards of Mari Stopes International and the Safe Motherhood for All Australia Inc. Since returning to Australia in 2010 he was appointed to the boards of the Australian Institute of International Affairs Victoria and the Hotham Mission Asylum Seeker Project.   

Over the course of his career Professor Howie has built a specialisation in the areas of cultural studies, communications for change, gender, human rights, migration, urbanisation, the environment, population policies, sexual and reproductive health, HIV/AIDS and human resource management. Among his recent publications are “On Universal Human Rights: Universality and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights” in Narratives of Globalization: Reflections on the Global Condition, edited by Julian C H Lee in 2016. Professor Howie’s own book titled, Reflections on a UN Career –An Australian Story is currently being completed with publication scheduled for 2020. In connection with the organisations with which Professor Howie is associated plus more broadly throughout the community, he is a regular speaker on matters concerning international relations and international development. Included here is the role he plays in directing Model UNs throughout the state of Victoria, an activity which in 2019 saw the participation of 3,000 senior high school students. He also acts as a mentor to a large number of university students and works closely with them in the pursuit of both their academic studies and research interests.