Haris Silajdzic, a former BiH Presidency member, entered the narrower circle of candidates when it comes to the election of the United Nations Special Representative for Syria.
After four years on the job, the Swedish-Italian diplomat announced on 17 October that he will step down for “purely personal reasons” in late November. A day later, his advisor for humanitarian affairs, Jan Egeland, also announced he was leaving.
Egeland’s Humanitarian Task Force, although often deadlocked, sometimes seemed more fruitful than the political process headed by de Mistura, as it achieved small successes in widening humanitarian access and civilian protection on the ground.
On the political track, de Mistura had no more luck than his predecessors, Algerian diplomat Lakhdar Brahimi and former UN secretary-general Kofi Annan.
Potential candidates to succeed de Mistura reportedly include no less than three Eastern Europeans: former Bosnian president Haris Silajdžić; UN special coordinator for the Middle East peace process Nikolay Mladenov of Bulgaria; and Slovak diplomat Ján Kubiš, who heads the United Nations Assistance Mission in Iraq (UNAMI).
Another top candidate is former Algerian foreign minister Ramtane Lamamra. In what seemed like a nod to Lamamra, an anonymous Western diplomat told the Saudi-backed newspaper al-Sharq al-Awsat that the UN secretary-general is “waiting for the right time to announce the name of an Arab diplomat.”
Whoever takes de Mistura’s role will have a large say in picking his or her next humanitarian adviser, but aid access will likely continue to be a problem in Syria.
“Looking ahead, the Humanitarian Task Force must remain a venue for dedicated discussion and diplomacy on humanitarian access and protection of civilians across Syria,” said Rachel Sider, policy adviser for Egeland’s Norwegian Refugee Council, noting that many Syrians still risk being exposed to renewed fighting in rebel-controlled regions like Idlib.
“The new team will hopefully build on Egeland and de Mistura’s work and bring renewed focus to protecting Idlib’s three million civilians,” Sider told IRIN. “This crisis is far from over.”
Despite the lack of movement on the constitutional committee, the powers that appointed de Mistura to the job gave his performance friendly reviews.
US State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert said de Mistura had “worked tirelessly to find a solution to the Syrian crisis, saved lives by working to de-escalate the violence that has engulfed the country, and eased suffering by constantly pressing for unhindered delivery of vital medical and humanitarian aid to Syrians in need.”
On 26 October, de Mistura told the Security Council that past agreements with Damascus and Moscow over the constitutional committee no longer seemed to apply. Nevertheless, he said he would continue to consult with Russia and other nations before reporting back on 19 November, in what will likely be his last move as UN envoy.
(Source: klix, IRIN)