United Nations To Appoint Norwegian Diplomat As New Special Envoy To Syria
United Nations chief Antonio Guterres informed the Security Council of his intent to appoint Norwegian diplomat Geir Pedersen as the international body’s next special envoy to Syria. Pedersen, previously Oslo’s ambassador to the UN and currently posted to Beijing, would replace Staffan de Mistura, who served in the role for more than four years. Prior to de Mistura the position was held by past Algerian foreign minister Lakhdar Brahimi, and before him by recently-deceased former head of the UN Kofi Annan. “In taking this decision, I have consulted broadly, including with the government of the Syrian Arab Republic,” Guterres wrote in a letter obtained by the AFP news outlet. “Mr. Pedersen will support the Syrian parties by facilitating an inclusive and credible political solution that meets the democratic aspirations of the Syrian people.” The move comes after the leaders of Russia, Turkey, Germany and France over the weekend met in Istanbul, where they called for the establishment of a committee to draft Syria’s post-war constitution by the end of the year, thus “paving the way for free and fair elections.” The conflict, which began in 2011, has claimed more than 350,000 lives and displaced more than ten million people.