Staffan de Mistura

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Staffan de Mistura
Staffan de Mistura, Kabul.jpg
United Nations and Arab League Envoy to Syria
Incumbent
Assumed office
July 2014
Secretary General Ban Ki-moon (UN)
Nabil Elaraby (AL)
Preceded by Lakhdar Brahimi
Personal details
Born (1947-01-25) January 25, 1947 (age 67)
Nationality Italian-Swedish
Occupation Diplomat

Staffan Domingo de Mistura (born 25 January 1947 in Stockholm, Sweden) is a long-serving Italian-Swedish diplomat and former member of the Italian government. After a 40 year career in various United Nations agencies,[1] he was appointed Undersecretary of State (Junior Minister) for Foreign Affairs in the Italian cabinet headed by Mario Monti. He is currently the director of Villa San Michele on Capri[2] and United Nations special envoy for the Syria crisis.[3]

De Mistura's previous UN posts have included that of Special Representative of the Secretary-General in Iraq (2007–2009) and Afghanistan (2010–2011), Personal Representative of the Secretary-General for Southern Lebanon (2001–2004), and Director of the UN Information Center in Rome (2000–2001). His work has taken him to many of the World's most volatile trouble-spots including Afghanistan, Iraq, Lebanon, Rwanda, Somalia, Sudan and the former Yugoslavia.[4]

Early life[edit]

De Mistura was born in 1947, the son of a Swedish mother and an Italian father. His father belonged to a noble family of Sebenico, Dalmatia, and was forced to flee after World War II, when Jugoslavia took over the former Italian territories of Istria, Fiume and Zara. Although Sebenico never belonged politically to Italy, most of the Italians were threatened and fled.

Working as an intern for the UN World Food Programme (WFP) in Cyprus in the Mid 1970s, he witnessed the death of a child, shot by a sniper. The child had wandered over the 'green line' dividing Cyprus and Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus. This experience was something he found profoundly shocking, but it also stirred up a sense of 'constructive outrage' as he has described it; a desire to study humanitarian emergency relief and dedicate his life to working for the peaceful resolution of conflict.[4]

1970s–1990s[edit]

In 1971 de Mistura started his career with the UN as a WFP Project Officer in Sudan. In 1973 he was an Emergency Relief Officer in Chad, there he led the first ever UN airdrop operation.

By 1976, he was working as the UN Food and Agriculture Organization's Deputy Chef de Cabinet, a post he remained in until 1985. In addition, he was given special humanitarian assignments to Dubrovnik, Sarajevo, Sudan, Ethiopia, Vietnam and the Lao People's Democratic Republic.

In 1987 he returned to Sudan to become WFP Director of Operations. And from 1988 to 1991, he acted as Director of Fund-Raising and External Relations of the United Nations Office of the Coordinator for Afghanistan.

Moving on again, he was employed as Director of the Division of Public Affairs of the United Nations Children's Fund, known as UNICEF, and was also UNICEF representative for Somalia.

He was briefly the United Nations Humanitarian Coordinator for Iraq. The job lasted from March through August 1997.

In 1999, de Mistura sat as a member of the Security Council Panel on Humanitarian Issues in Iraq. He was also briefly Special Adviser to the High Commissioner for Refugees in Kosovo; a job that lasted from April to June. He was then given the task of Regional Administrator for the Mitrovica Region in Kosovo.[5]

2000–present[edit]

In June 2000, he was Special Rapporteur during the Fribourg Forum on Regional Cooperation and Coordination in Crisis Management for Europe and the Newly Independent States. Until 2001, he was Director of the United Nations Information Centre in Rome.

From 2001 to 2004, de Mistura was Personal Representative of the Secretary-General in Southern Lebanon. One of his major achievements in that post was to set up and organise a successful de-mining operation.[6] He then went on to serve as Deputy Special Representative for Iraq for 15 months, starting in January 2005. During his tenure, he was keen to portray an optimistic view of Iraq and its chances of recovery, highlighting the hard work the UN were putting in behind the scenes to provide Iraqis with a better standard of living.[7]

After that, he became Director of the UN Staff College in Turin, Italy, a post he retained until 11 September 2007, when Ban Ki-moon appointed him as his Special Representative (SRSG) for Iraq.[8] He was the successor of SRSG Ashraf Qazi and assumed his responsibilities in the Mission Area on 5 November and in Baghdad on 11 November 2007. In the weeks leading up to the appointment, it was reported that politicians in Baghdad strongly favoured a former Romanian envoy to Iraq, Radu Onofrei.[9] However, it was later revealed through Wikileaks that it was the Romanian government that lobbied the US to favor Mr. Onofrei.[10]

In July 2009 de Mistura left Iraq to become the Deputy Executive Director for External Relations of the World Food Programme in Rome.[11] In January 2010, Holbrooke, the U.S. special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, revealed that de Mistura had been offered the job as the U.N. special representative in Afghanistan, replacing Kai Eide.[12] The New York Times noted in an editorial that UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon was also considering Jean-Marie Guéhenno of France and Ian Martin of Britain for the Kabul mission.[13]

End of January 2010, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon announced his intention to appoint de Mistura in March 2010 as the top United Nations envoy to Afghanistan.[14]

Staffan de Mistura was appointed by Ban Ki-moon as Special Representative of the Secretary General (SRSG) in Afghanistan and Chief of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA).

While U.S. President Barack Obama laid the blame for the massacre of U.N. officials in Mazar-i-Sharif on the Afghans, Staffan de Mistura said "I don't think we should be blaming any Afghan. We should be blaming the person who produced the news—the one who burned the Koran."[15]

On 28 November 2011, he was nominated Undersecretary of Foreign Affairs in Italy's technocratic cabinet headed by Mario Monti.[16]

In May 2013, the Italian Government appointed Deputy Foreign Minister Staffan de Mistura as the Special Envoy of the Prime Minister of Italy to resolve the case of two Italian Navy marines, held in India since February 2012 after they shot and killed two Indian fishermen when deployed on an Italian-flagged merchant vessel Enrica Lexie. The 2012 Italian Navy Marines shooting incident in the Laccadive Sea strained diplomatic relations between Italy and India. Staffan de Mistura has been mandated to find a "fair, positive and acceptable solution" with Indian judicial authorities to ensure a quick trial and return of Massimiliano Latorre and Salvatore Girone to Italy.

On 10 July 2014, the United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon announced that he had appointed de Mistura as the new special envoy tasked with seeking a peaceful resolution of the conflict in Syria.[3]

Personal life[edit]

Dual citizen of Italy and Sweden, de Mistura holds the title of marquess (marchese) and speaks Swedish, Italian, English, French, German, Spanish and Arabic (colloquial). De Mistura has two daughters.[5]

References and notes[edit]

External links[edit]

Diplomatic posts
Preceded by
Lakhdar Brahimi
United Nations and Arab League Envoy to Syria
2014–present
Incumbent