Veteran diplomat Lakhdar Brahimi will be the new Joint Special Representative of the United Nations and League of Arab States for the crisis in Syria, taking over the peace-facilitation role played over the past several months by former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, a spokesperson for the world organization said.
Brahimi is expected to assume his duties following the expiration of Annan’s mandate on 31 August 2012.
“The Secretary-General appreciates Mr. Brahimi’s willingness to bring his considerable talents and experience to this crucial task for which he will need, and rightly expects, the strong, clear and unified support of the international community, including the Security Council,” a UN spokesperson said at a media briefing at UN Headquarters in New York.
He added that both Secretary-General Ban, and his counterpart at the League of Arab States, Nabil El Araby, were pleased to make the announcement of the appointment.
“Diplomacy to promote a peaceful resolution to the conflict in Syria remains a top priority for the United Nations,” the spokesperson said. “More fighting and militarization will only exacerbate the suffering and make more difficult the path to a peaceful resolution of the crisis which would lead to a political transition in accordance with the legitimate aspirations of the Syrian people.”
The President of the General Assembly, Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser, also welcomed Brahimi’s appointment. According to a statement issued by his spokesperson, Al-Nasser thanked Brahimi for accepting to undertake what he called “a crucial assignment” aimed at ending the Syrian violence.
“Mr. Brahimi brings to this difficult task his well-known experience, credibility and diligence,” the statement said. “President Al-Nasser wishes him success in his endeavours.
Annan was appointed Joint Special Envoy for the crisis in Syria in late February to provide good offices on behalf of the UN and Arab League, with the aim of bringing an end to all violence and human rights violations in Syria, and promoting a peaceful solution to the conflict.
Syria has been wracked by violence, with more than 17,000 people, mostly civilians, killed since the uprising against President Bashar al-Assad began some 17 months ago. Over recent days, there have been reports of an escalation in violence in many towns and villages, as well as the country’s two biggest cities, Damascus and Aleppo.
As part of his efforts, Annan put forward a six-point peace plan. It called for an end to violence, access for humanitarian agencies to provide relief to those in need, the release of detainees, the start of inclusive political dialogue, and unrestricted access to the country for the international media.
Despite initial signs of acceptance of the six-point plan, repeated calls from international officials and the deployment of the UN Supervision Mission in Syria (UNSMIS) to monitor a ceasefire, there was little in the way of the plan’s implementation by the parties to the conflict.
Due to that lack of progress, UNSMIS’ mandate is expected to be allowed to expire this coming Sunday by the Security Council, while that body is at the same time working with Secretary-General Ban to keep a UN presence on the ground, through a liaison office that will continue to support the Special Representative’s efforts.
“The Secretary-General takes this opportunity to reiterate his deepest gratitude to former Secretary-General Kofi Annan for his selfless efforts and contributions to the search for peace in Syria,” the spokesperson added.
Brahimi, an Algerian national, has served the United Nations in various high-level roles over in the past two decades, including heading the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), serving as an advisor on a range of issues, and chairing an independent panel on peacekeeping operations which released its keynote findings, known as the “Brahimi Report,” in 2000. Also, as an Algerian diplomat, Mr. Brahimi served with the League of Arab States from 1984 to 1991.