Norwegian Geir Pedersen, new UN special envoy for Syria

Norwegian Geir Pedersen, new UN special envoy for Syria

UN Secretary-General António Guterres today announced the appointment of Norwegian diplomat Geir Pedersen as his new special envoy for Syria.

Pedersen will replace Staffan de Mistura, who plans to leave office at the end of November after just over four years trying unsuccessfully to mediate for a negotiated end to the conflict in the Arab country.

His successor is currently Norway's ambassador to China and has an extensive diplomatic career, both in representation of his country and working for the United Nations.

In a statement, Guterres stressed that the new envoy brings to the post "decades of political and diplomatic experience."

In 1993, Pedersen was part of the Norwegian team that participated in the negotiations of the Oslo Accords between Israel and the Organization for the Liberation of Palestine (PLO).

At the UN he has held various positions, including that of special coordinator for Lebanon between 2007 and 2008 and representative for southern Lebanon between 2005 and 2007.

Pedersen will be the fourth special UN envoy to Syria since the war began in 2011.

The first, the former Secretary General of the United Nations Kofi Annan, left office after only a few months, frustrated by the lack of cooperation from the parties to the conflict and the blockade in the Security Council.

His successor, Lajdar Brahimi, held the post for just under two years and also left it in the absence of progress in the negotiations.

In the case of De Mistura, the veteran diplomat has assured that he resigns for family reasons, but he has not been able to achieve great progress during his more than four years in office.

During his last month as a special envoy, De Mistura is focusing on trying to set up the committee that should be in charge of drafting a new Syrian constitution, a process held back by Damascus so far.

The Syrian government has repeatedly rejected the UN leading the selection of representatives of civil society that will constitute a third of the participants of the committee, despite the agreement reached in that regard last January.


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