Guterres appoints new UNFICYP head

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United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres has appointed Canadian Colin Stewart as his new Special Representative and Head of the United Nations Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP).

Stewart will also perform the role of Deputy to the Secretary-General’s Special Adviser on Cyprus.

It seems he will also be taking on some of the responsibilities of departed UN envoy Jane Holl Lute to help reinvigorate the moribund peace process.

There have been no UN-backed Cyprus talks since 2017, and there is disagreement over the appointment of an envoy since Lute departed a few months ago over a conflict of interest.

He succeeds Elizabeth Spehar, also Canadian, to whom the Secretary-General is “grateful for her strong leadership and dedication over the course of her tenure”.

Steward’s appointment comes after Guterres met President Nicos Anastasiades and Turkish Cypriot leader Ersin Tatar in New York on September 27.

Stewart recently served as Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of the United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO) (2017-2021).

“He brings a demonstrated record of leadership and management, with over 28 years of experience in peace and security and international affairs,” a UN statement said.

He previously served as Deputy Head and Chief of Staff of the United Nations Office to the African Union in Addis Ababa.

In addition, he held appointments in several United Nations field missions, including as Acting Chief of Staff and Chief of Political Affairs at the United Nations Integrated Mission in Timor-Leste (UNMIT) (2007 to 2009).

He was a Canadian diplomat from 1990 to 1997. Stewart is a graduate of Laval University in Canada.

“Pleased to see Colin Stewart nominated to succeed Spehar and continue her good work in Cyprus.

“I look forward to welcoming Colin to this beautiful island and continuing to work closely with the UN team to promote peace and stability in the East Med,” tweeted US ambassador Judith Garber.

UNFICYP is one of the world’s longest-running peace missions, deployed on the island since 1964.