Secretary-General Kofi Annan has recommended a career diplomat from Egypt to chair a panel of experts investigating the illegal exploitation of natural resources in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).
Mahmoud Kassem, who previously served as Chairman of the International Commission of Inquiry on the events in Rwanda, and recently on the Committee of Experts on Afghanistan, is "an eminent person whose experience amply qualifies him to occupy this important position," the Secretary-General said in a letter to the Security Council that was issued today at United Nations Headquarters in New York.
During his diplomatic career, Ambassador Kassem served as Under-Secretary of Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Permanent Representative to the UN in Geneva and New York, Ambassador of Egypt to Canada, a number of African countries, and to the Organization of African Unity (OAU) and the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA).
Last month, the Security Council had requested the Secretary-General to extend for three months the mandate of the Panel of Experts on the Illegal Exploitation of Natural Resources and Other Forms of Wealth in the DRC. The Council had also asked that the panel submit an addendum to their final report containing its findings.
According to the Secretary-General's letter, if Mr. Kassem's candidacy is approved by the Security Council, the new chair and members of the Panel will briefly convene in New York before proceeding to the Great Lakes region.
Mr. Kassem will replace Safiatou Ba-N'Daw who has taken up a position as Director of the Special Unit for Technical Cooperation Among Developing Countries, within the UN Development Programme (UNDP).