Grover Joseph Rees, a native and resident of Louisiana, served as the first United States Ambassador to East Timor from 2002 to 2006.
From October 2006 until January 2009 Ambassador Rees served as Special Representative for Social Issues in the U.S. Department of State. He was responsible for promoting human dignity, including issues affecting vulnerable persons and the family, within the United Nations system. He served as Acting U.S. Representative to the United Nations Economic and Social Counsel during the fall 2007 session of the UN General Assembly and also served as Deputy Assistant Secretary for International Organizations.
From 1995 until 2002 Rees was a senior staff member on the Foreign Affairs Committee in the United States House of Representatives, where he was responsible for human rights and refugee protection and played a major role in the drafting and enactment of important human rights legislation including the Trafficking Victims Protection Act, the International Religious Freedom Act, and the Torture Victims Relief Act.
Ambassador Rees also formerly served as General Counsel of the United States Immigration and Naturalization Service (1991-93), as Chief Justice of the High Court of American Samoa (1986-1991), and as Special Counsel to the Attorney General of the United States (1985-86).
Prior to his work in Washington, Rees served for seven years as a law professor at the University of Texas. He has written and spoken widely on international law, human rights, refugees, and related issues.
Rees obtained his undergraduate degree from Yale University and his law degree from Louisiana State University Law School, where he served as Editor in Chief of the Louisiana Law Review and was selected for the academic honor society Order of the Coif.
Rees was born in New Orleans, the oldest of 12 children. He is married to Lan Dai Nguyen Rees and has one son. He retired from government service in January 2009 and now lives and works in Lafayette, Louisiana.
In addition to English, Ambassador Rees speaks French, Spanish, Portuguese, Samoan, and Tetum.
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