Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has informed the Security Council of his intention to appoint Christopher Ross of the United States as his Personal Envoy for Western Sahara and Michael von der Schulenburg as his Executive Representative for the UN Integrated Peacebuilding Office in Sierra Leone (UNIPSIL).
Mr. Ross, who replaces Peter van Walsum, has had a long and distinguished career with the US State Department in which he focused on Middle Eastern and North African affairs.
A former US Ambassador to Syria and to Algeria, he was most recently Senior Adviser for the Middle East and North Africa at the US Mission to the UN.
“Mr. Ross will work with the parties and neighbouring countries based on the most recent Security Council Resolution 1813 and previous resolutions, building on progress made to date, in pursuit of a just, lasting and mutually acceptable political solution, which will provide for the self-determination of the people of Western Sahara,” UN spokesperson Michele Montas told reporters.
Several rounds of UN-led talks, bringing together representatives from Morocco and the Frente Polisario, held last year resulted in the parties agreeing to continue negotiations in good faith towards a solution to the issue.
Morocco holds that its sovereignty over Western Sahara should be recognized, while the Frente Polisario’s position is that the Territory’s final status should be decided in a referendum that includes independence as an option.
Mr. von der Schulenburg, who replaces Victor Da Silva Angelo, is currently Acting Executive Representative for the UN Office in Sierra Leone.
He brings with him a wide range of experience that covers virtually all aspects of UN activities from development assistance to humanitarian aid and managerial reforms, and from combating illicit drug trafficking to conflict resolution and political affairs.
His career with the UN includes assignments in Haiti, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran and Iraq. Most recently, he served that as the Principal Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Political Affairs with the UN Assistance Mission for Iraq.