Ban to appoint experienced Dutch diplomat to head UN mission in Côte d’Ivoire

28 July 2011

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today announced his intention to appoint Bert Koenders of the Netherlands as his Special Representative for Côte d’Ivoire and head of the United Nations peacekeeping operation in the West African country.

Mr. Koenders will replace Choi Young-jin of the Republic of Korea, who will complete his term on 31 August.

The Secretary-General expressed his gratitude to Mr. Choi for his “dedicated service and excellent leadership” of the peacekeeping mission, known as UNOCI, during a critical and challenging period in the country over the past four years.

Mr. Koenders will bring to the position more than 25 years of experience in international affairs, development cooperation, and international policy-making on humanitarian, development and governance issues.

He is currently serving as the co-chair of the Working Group for the Fourth UN High-Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness and as chair of the Rutgers World Population Foundation.

Mr. Koenders, who was born in 1958, also served as the Dutch Minister for Development Cooperation from 2007 to 2010 and worked on peace support initiatives for Afghanistan, Burundi, Chad, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and Sudan. He was previously a Dutch lawmaker from 1997 to 2007.

He also served with the European Commission and the UN in Mozambique, and was foreign policy adviser to several Dutch members of parliament.

Côte d’Ivoire is emerging from a crisis that ended in mid-April, when former president Laurent Gbagbo finally surrendered, ending months of violence in the wake of his refusal to step down after he lost last November’s UN-certified run-off election to Alassane Ouattara, who was sworn in as President in May.

The country now faces a number of key post-crisis challenges, including the restoration of law and order, national reconciliation, the holding of legislative elections, and economic recovery.

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