Ambassador Knut Vollebaek appointed OSCE High Commissioner on National Minorities

Other News Materials 5 July 2007 12:52 (UTC +04:00)

( OSCE ) - The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe appointed Ambassador Knut Vollebaek, a former Foreign Minister of Norway, as OSCE High Commissioner on National Minorities on Wednesday for a three-year term, succeeding Rolf Ekeus of Sweden.

Mr. Vollebaek, who has been Norway's Ambassador to the United States since 2001, is recognized internationally for his role in promoting peace, security and human rights.

Born in Oslo in 1946, Ambassador Vollebaek joined his country's foreign service in 1973 and served in challenging and sensitive positions at home and abroad. He was Norway's Foreign Minister from 1997 to 2000). This meant he was the OSCE Chairman-in-Office in 1999 and presided over the Organization's most recent summit of OSCE Heads of State in Istanbul in November that year. He has been involved in conflict prevention and resolution throughout his career, including in the former Yugoslavia, Kosovo and Sri Lanka.

Outgoing High Commissioner Rolf Ekeus has been widely praised for his dedication, diplomatic skills and political acumen that have contributed to peace and harmony in the multi-ethnic family of the OSCE.

The High Commissioner's task, agreed upon in 1992, is to identify and seek early resolution of ethnic tensions that might endanger peace, stability or friendly relations between OSCE participating States. The mandate describes the role as "an instrument of conflict prevention at the earliest possible stage."