7 January 2009
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.
UN 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 of Germany as his Executive Representative for the United Nations Integrated Peacebuilding Office in Sierra Leone (UNIPSIL). Mr.Ross will replace Peter van Walsum and Mr. von der Schulenburg will replace Victor Da Silva Angelo.
The Secretary-General is grateful to Mr. van Walsum for his dedicated service on the important issue of Western Sahara. The Secretary-General is also grateful to Mr. Da Silva Angelo, who currently serves as Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of the United Nations Mission in the Central African Republic and Chad (MINURCAT), for his committed service in Sierra Leone.
Mr. Ross will work with the parties, and neighbouring countries based on the most recent Security Council resolution 1813 (2008) 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 ofWestern Sahara.
He takes up his new assignment following a long and distinguished career with the United States Department of State, where he focused especially on Middle Eastern and North African affairs. He is a former United States Ambassador to Syria and to Algeria, and was most recently Senior Adviser for the Middle East and North Africa at the United States Mission to the United Nations.
After retiring in 1999, Mr. Ross returned to active service to help coordinate United States public diplomacy towards the Arab and Muslim worlds (2001-2003). He then served as Senior Adviser to the United States Embassy in Baghdad (2004) and Special Adviser in the Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs, working on Iraq. From 2006-2007, he was Senior Adviser to the United States Delegations to the General Assembly.
Mr. Ross’s earlier postings in the United States Foreign Service include: Executive Assistant to the Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs; Director of Regional Affairs of the Bureau of Near Eastern and South Asian Affairs; Deputy Chief of Mission and Chargé d’Affaires in Algiers; Press Attaché in Beirut, Lebanon; and Director of the American Cultural Center in Fez,Morocco.
He holds a Bachelor’s degree in Oriental (Near Eastern) studies from Princeton University, and a Master of Arts in international relations and Middle Eastern studies from Johns Hopkins University. He speaks English, Arabic and French, and has taught Arabic at Columbia and Princeton Universities.
Born on 3 March 1943, he has one son.