UNITED NATIONS - U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has named veteran diplomat Staffan de Mistura as his new envoy on Syria.
De Mistura replaces envoy Lakhdar Brahimi, who resigned his post at the end of May following the collapse of the second round of Geneva talks and the holding of Syria’s presidential elections.
The 67-year-old De Mistura, who is Swedish-born and also has Italian nationality, has a decades-long resume of United Nations posts, including in some of the organization’s most difficult missions, such as Afghanistan and Iraq. Ban said these experiences will serve him well in his new role.
“He will bring all his expertise and experiences to this very difficult negotiations for peace in Syria," he said. "So I am confident that he will be able to carry out his duty as special envoy.”
De Mistura will only be a United Nations envoy - not the joint U.N.-Arab League envoy as Brahimi was. Ban said he will have an Arab deputy, Egyptian diplomat Ramzy Ezzeldine Ramzy.
“In taking this decision I have consulted broadly, including with the Syrian authorities," he said. "The special envoy will provide good offices aimed at bringing an end to all violence and human rights violations and promoting a peaceful solution to the Syrian crisis.”
Ban urged the international community, Security Council and Syrian parties to give his new envoy unified support, so he can succeed in his mission.
He will take up his duties immediately, but it is not yet clear whether he will be based at U.N. offices in Geneva or Damascus.
The Syrian Coalition’s U.S. representative, Najib Ghadbian, welcomed the announcement, saying the opposition group looks forward to working closely with de Mistura and his team to achieve a political transition to democracy.
U.S. Ambassador Samantha Power also welcomed de Mistura’s appointment, but noted he will face challenges in his new role, including the Syrian government’s deliberate prevention of vital humanitarian aid from reaching Syrians in besieged and hard-to-reach areas.