Geir Pederson: A Norwegian Diplomat Seeking to Play the Syrian Pipes of Peace 

Illustration by Ali Elmandalawi

  1. On October 17, 2018, UN Envoy to Syria, Staffan de Mistura, resigned from his position “purely for personal reasons”. This left UN General Secretary, António Guterres, with the task of finding a replacement.
  2. When the Secretary General put forward his nominations for de Mistura’s successor, Norwegian Ambassador to China, Geir Pedersen, received the overwhelming majority of votes.
  3. Geir Pedersen was born in the Norwegian capital of Oslo in 1955.
  4. He began his diplomatic career in conflict resolution when he took part in Palestinian-Israeli negotiations which eventually led to the Oslo Accords.
  5. He then served as Norway’s Representative for the Palestinian Authority from 1998 to 2003.
  6. Pederson also worked for his country’s foreign ministry where he was the Director General for the Department for the United Nations, Peace and Humanitarian Affairs.
  7. He would continue his career in Middle East affairs as he served as the UN’s special coordinator for Lebanon from 2005 to 2008. 
  8. From 2012 to 2017, Pederson then served as the Permanent Representative of Norway to the UN.
  9. On June 9, 2017 he was appointed as Norwegian Ambassador to China. Upon his appointment, he became a much more of a prominent figure in diplomatic conflict resolution.
  10. It is now up Pederson to do what his three predecessors failed to do: bring the bloodshed and conflict in Syria to a peaceful end.
  11. The diplomatic wing of the Syrian regime cautiously welcomed the new UN Envoy, in a statement Faisal Mekdad, the Syrian Deputy Foreign Minister, said: “Syria is prepared to cooperate with the new UN Envoy Geir Pederson, just as it did with the previous ones, provided that he also avoids the methods of his predecessors and works toward the unity of Syria and its people, rather than standing by the terrorists”.
  12. Will the Norwegian have the cool nerves required to resolve a hot and complex issue like the Syria crisis, or will he just be another name in a list of failures in this position?
  13.  Will Pederson succeed in Damascus? To quote the tragic Shakespearean protagonist Hamlet: “That is the question”.

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