UN chief appoints new special envoy for Syria
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Wednesday announced the appointment of Geir Pedersen of Norway as his new special envoy for Syria to succeed Staffan de Mistura, who steps down in November, according to Xinhua.
Pedersen has decades of political and diplomatic experience, having served both in government and United Nations capacities, said Guterres' press office in a statement.
He is the current Norwegian ambassador to China. Before that he was Norway's permanent representative to the United Nations between 2012 and 2017.
Pedersen served the United Nations in various roles, including as special coordinator for Lebanon between 2007 and 2008 and as personal representative of the secretary-general for Southern Lebanon between 2005 and 2007. He also worked as director of the Asia and Pacific Division in the Department of Political Affairs.
Between 1998 and 2003, Pedersen served as the Norwegian representative to the Palestinian Authority. In 1993, he was a member of the Norwegian 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.
Born in Oslo in September 1955, he is married and has five children.
Pedersen takes up the Syria position at a critical time. De Mistura is struggling to convene a constitutional committee that is tasked to draft a new constitution for the war-torn country.
He told the Security Council last week that Damascus refused to recognize the United Nations' role in forming the constitutional committee. De Mistura will brief the Security Council on Nov. 19 for the last time as special envoy. He decided to step down to have more time with his family.
Guterres on Wednesday reiterated his "deepest gratitude" to de Mistura for his efforts and contributions to the search for peace in Syria.