Minata Samate-Cessouma is a graduate of the Ecole Nationale de Magistrature in Ouagadougou and holds a master’s degree in international administration from the Université Paris 1. She began her career in 1994 as a high-ranking official in her country’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, working as head of the international relations Unit. In 1997, she joined Burkina Faso’s embassy in Ethiopia. Back in Burkina Faso in 2003, she became a diplomatic advisor to the President, before being appointed as deputy Minister for regional co-operation in 2007. In 2011, she was appointed Ambassador of Burkina Faso in Ethiopia, where she also held the position of Permanent Representative to the African Union (AU) until her election as AU Commissioner for Political Affairs, being notably in charge of humanitarian affairs, human rights and democracy issues.