Francesc Vendrell has had a distinguished career at the United Nations and in the European Union. He served at the UN for 34 years, including from 1986 to 1992 as Director for Europe and the Americas, Office of Research and Collection of Information in the Office of the Secretary-General. He also was concurrently Deputy Personal Representative of the Secretary-General for Central America during a period in which the UN sponsored negotiations leading to UN-supervised elections in Nicaragua in 1990 followed by the dissolution and reintegration of the Nicaraguan Resistance ("Contra"); peace talks between the Government of El Salvador and the "Frente Faribundo Marti de Liberacion Nacional" (FMLN) resulting in a peace agreement; and the opening of a peace process between the Government of Guatemala and the "Union Revolucionaria Nacional Guatemalteca" (URNG), which would ultimately lead to the settlement of the 37-year-old conflict in 1996.
Following the establishment of the Department of Political Affairs in 1992, he served as Director for Special Political Assignments and as head of a Mission to Armenia and Azerbaijan to discuss the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict (1992) and Senior Adviser to the UN/OAS Special Envoy for Haiti (1993). Between 1993 and 1999, he was Director for Asia and the Pacific, while concurrently serving as Special Envoy for Cambodia (1997-98), Papua New Guinea (1996-99), and Senior Adviser on Myanmar (1994-99).
During the same period, he was deeply involved in the negotiations between Portugal and Indonesia on the question of East Timor, first as senior adviser and subsequently as the Secretary-General's Deputy Personal Representative, which culminated with the May 1999 Agreement that was followed by an act of self-determination in August of that year, leading to the independence of the Territory in May 2002.
Following the referendum in East Timor, Vendrell was appointed in January 2000 as the Secretary-General's Personal Representative for Afghanistan, a position he held for two years during a momentous period that witnessed the ouster of the Taliban following the 9/11 terrorist attacks and the holding of the Bonn Conference three months afterwards.
After retiring from the UN, Vendrell was appointed by the European Union as its Special Representative for Afghanistan, a position he was to hold until September 2008.
After leaving Afghanistan, he has been Visiting Professor at the Woodrow Wilson School, Princeton University during the academic year 2008-09. Since 2011 he has been Adjunct Professor at the School for Advanced International Studies (SAIS), John Hopkins University, Bologna campus.
He holds an MA from Cambridge, an LLB from King's College, London and a Bachelor's degree in Law from the University of Barcelona.