THE NEW NEGOTIATORS
As most members and associates of the NCF interested in the Syria issue will realise, two new negotiators have been appointed to handle the Syria issue following Lakhdar Brahimi’s resignation. They are the Italian-Swedish diplomat Steffan de Mistura and, as his deputy, the little known Egyptian diplomat, Ramzy Ezzeldine Ramzy. For this Syria report we felt it pertinent to include their biographies since, theoretically, they could have a significant influence on the resolution of the chaos extant in much of Syria at present.
Staffan de Mistura
UN Special Envoy for the Syria Crisis
Staffan de Mistura is an Italian-Swedish diplomat, born in Stockholm, 25 January 1947 who has more than forty years experience working with the UN and who has more recently held office in the Italian Monti cabinet. He has worked in South Sudan, Southern Lebanon, Afghanistan, Iraq, Sarajevo and Kosovo has maintained close links with the US and with Brussels, where he is currently the President of the Board of Governors in the European Institute of Peace.
Steffan de Mistura speaks seven languages: Italian, English, French, German, Spanish, Swedish and Colloquial Arabic.
He graduated from the University of Sapienzo in Rome with a doctorate in Political Science and has a post-graduate qualification in “Hot Negotiations, Development Economics - Crisis Management in Conflict Areas.”
During the early stages of his career, de Mistura focused on humanitarian agendas, working as a project officer for the World Food Programme delivering convoys of food aid to areas affected by internal conflict in South Sudan from 1971 to 1972. After fundraising for the Food and Agricultural Organisation of the United Nations in Rome from 1972 to 1974, he went on to become the Food and Agricultural Organisation’s Liaison Officer in New York from 1974 to 1976. De Mistura then became the Deputy Chief of Cabinet of Directors for the Food and Agricultural Organisation in Rome until 1985. After that he returned to Sudan where he remained until 1987 working with UNICEF to head a vaccination campaign which saw vaccination coverage rate rise from 32% to 71% and as the Director of Operations for the World Food Programme.
in 1991 during the massive, and successful, UN-sanctioned humanitarian intervention in Iraq, he helped facilitate what's said to be the fastest refugee return in history. He led the way when the UN took over after US-led coalition forces under Operation Provide Comfort (OPC) secured the area and provided substantial humanitarian assistance.
In 1992, de Mistura became the Director of Public Affairs for UNICEF in Somalia.
During the latter half of the above period, de Mistura also played a role in several special assignments for the UN. These included the ‘San Bernardo’ operation which delivered food to during the Ethiopian famine, using both Warsaw Pact and NATO assets.
Staffan de Mistura was also involved in food aid operations in Afghanistan during the Soviet-Mujahidin conflict. De Mistura was also the team leader of a UNICEF mission during the siege of Dubrovnik, evacuating 4,570. He was also involved in providing winter relief to the people of the people of besieged Sarajevo. He also helped support the UN weapons inspection and sanctions regime in under Saddam, particularly with regard to the issue of the Presidential palaces.
He first became involved in the Middle East after working in the UN Office of the Co-ordinator for Afghanistan as a Director of Fund-Raising and External Relations. He then held a brief posting as the United Nations Humanitarian Co-ordinator for Iraq, a post which he held for less than a year in 1997. He continued to work on implementing the UN sanctions machine in Iraq, sitting as a member of the Security Council Panel on Humanitarian Issues in Iraq in 1999, but was also a regional administrator in Kosovo later this year.
In 2000, he was the UN Special Rapporteur for the Fribourg forum on ‘Regional Co-operation and Co-ordination in Crisis Management for Europe and Newly Independent States’. He was the Personal Representative of Secretary-General in preventative diplomacy to diffuse tension in Southern Lebanon and Syria, and had major successes in his organisation of a de-mining program until 2004. De Mistura was then Deputy Special Representative for Iraq (2005-2006). He returned to Rome in 2006 as the Director of UN Staff College, training staff for conflict zone assignments. He was back in Iraq in 2007 as the Iraq Representative of UN Secretary-General in charge of all operations specific to Iraq. His appointment was vehemently opposed by Baghdad, who strongly favoured a former Romanian envoy. He was involved in the supporting the controversial UN position on Kirkuk and the disputed territories (the UN exceeded its remit to recommend the issue be set aside for a decade). De Mistura returned to the World Food Programme as Deputy Executive Director in Rome then was posted in Kabul until 2011, as Afghanistan Representative of UN Secretary-General responsible for all operations specific to Afghanistan and appointed chief of United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan. Following that, he was nominated as Undersecretary of Foreign Affairs in the technocratic Monti Government and was involved in attempting to negotiate the repatriation of two Italian Marines held in India for the shooting of Indian Fishermen in the Laccadive Sea. This mission failed and the relations between Italy and India have since 2012, remained strained.
Staffan de Mistura was appointed by Brussels as the President of Board of Governors of the European Institute of Peace, an organisation with a vision of fostering global peace through ‘operational mediation and informal dialogue with state and non-state actors.’ While the institution is not an official body of the EU, it does have a close partnership with the EU and includes Switzerland amongst its members. It closely resembles the United States Institute of Peace, established in 1984.
Ramzy Ezzeldine Ramzy
Deputy to UN Special Envoy for the Syria Crisis
Ramzy Ezzeldin Ramzy was born on February 4, 1954. Ambassador Ramzy was educated at the American University in Cairo where he received his BA in Economics in 1974, and at the University of Surrey, United Kingdom, where he completed his M.Sc. in Economics in 1975.
At age 24, after serving in the cabinet of the foreign minister for two years, he travelled to New York as third secretary at the permanent mission of Egypt to the United Nations, a top posting for a young diplomat.
Ramzy's career took off after that, taking him to major cities where he witnessed significant political and socioeconomic transitions firsthand. Serving as counsellor in the Egyptian embassy in Moscow in the late 1980s, he was there during the fall of the Berlin Wall and the final years before the collapse of the Soviet Union.
Ramzy took up his first post as ambassador to Brazil at the age of 42, the youngest Egyptian ambassador at the time. He held that post from 1997 to 2000, and also served as a Non-Resident Ambassador to Suriname and Guyana.
Between 2003 and 2007 he was Ambassador to Austria where he also served as Permanent Representative to the United Nations in Vienna. He also served on the Board of Governors of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) where he was Vice-Chairman from 2005 to 2006. He was also Egypt's Non-Resident Ambassador to the Slovak Republic from 2004 to 2007.
From 2007 to 2008, Ramzy served as the Egyptian Assistant Minister of Foreign Affairs for Economic Affairs and International Cooperation.
Ramzy was Ambassador to the Federal Republic of Germany from 2008 to 2012. He then served as First Under Secretary at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Arab Republic of Egypt from September to December 2012.
At the time of his new appointment as deputy to De Mistura, Ramzy was the Assistant Foreign Minister for Economic Affairs and International Cooperation in Egypt. He was also Egypt’s Commissioner to the Developing 8 Countries (D-8). Ambassador Ramzy Ezzeldin Ramzy was also seconded as Head of the Mission of the League of Arab States to Austria and Permanent Observer to the United Nations and other International Organizations in Vienna (May 2013).
Ramzy has also served as Head of Egyptian delegations to the General Conferences of IAEA, United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) as well as the Preparatory Committee of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO), United Nations Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice (CCPCJ), United Nations Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND), Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (COPUOS) and OSCE Ministerial Conferences.
Ramzy has received the order of Merit, Fifth Class from Egypt and the GRA-CRUZ da Ordem Nacional do Cruzeiro do Sul from Brazil.