New UN special envoy for Syria assumes office


Veteran Norwegian diplomat Geir O. Pedersen has assumed his post as the United Nations’ special envoy for Syria.

In a tweet, Pedersen said: “The new #UN Special Envoy for #Syria, Geir O. Pedersen, took up his functions today.”

Pedersen said he paid a visit to UN headquarters in Geneva to meet the staff.

On Oct. 31, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres announced he chose a successor to outgoing Syria envoy Staffan de Mistura, who announced his resignation earlier in October. 

De Mistura served more than four years as the UN’s point person for the conflict in Syria.

Pedersen is the fourth person to hold the position after former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan and Algerian envoy Lakhdar Brahimi quit the post in 2012 and 2014, respectively. 

De Mistura had been running intra-Syrian talks since late 2017 seeking to draft a new constitution for Syria and establish requirements for UN-supervised elections.

Born in Oslo in 1955, the veteran diplomat was recently serving as Norway’s Ambassador to the People’s Republic of China since 2017. He also served as Permanent Representative of Norway to the United Nations between 2012 and 2017.

He served the United Nations in various roles, including as Special Coordinator for Lebanon from 2007 to 2008 and as Personal Representative of the Secretary-General for Southern Lebanon from 2005 to 2007. He also worked as Director of the Asia and Pacific Division in the Department of Political Affairs.

Pedersen was Norway’s representative to the Palestinian Authority in the late 1990s.

From 1995 to 1998, he held different positions at his country’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Oslo, among them as Chief of Staff for the Foreign Minister of Norway.

In 1993, he was a member of Norway’s team to the Oslo negotiations that led to the signing of the Declaration of Principles and the mutual recognition between the Palestine Liberation Organization and Israel.

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