New Unficyp chief arrives in Cyprus

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Colin Stewart, the new Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General (SRSG) and head of the UN Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus (Unficyp), arrived on the island on Monday, replacing Elizabeth Spehar.

As with his predecessor, Stewart, a Canadian diplomat from 1990 to 1997, will be given the mandate to act as the UN’s Secretary General Antonio Guterres’ Deputy Special Adviser on Cyprus.

In comments upon his arrival, Stewart said he was honoured to be in Cyprus, paying tribute to Spehar “for her stalwart leadership of Unficyp and the Good Offices mission.

“I am keenly aware of the importance of Unficyp’s mandate for the lives of all Cypriots and I look forward to working with all of you and our partners in Cyprus,” he said.

“I look forward to continuing the work of the United Nations in Cyprus and hope to forge strong working relationships with all stakeholders and learn from them so that, together, we can hopefully bring a lasting peace to the island,” added Stewart.

Stewart, who until recently served as Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of the UN Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO) in 2017-2021, brings to the role a long record of leadership, diplomacy and effective management, with over 28 years of experience in peace and security and international affairs.

Prior to MINURSO, he served as Deputy Head and Chief of Staff of the UN Office to the African Union (UNOAU) in Addis Ababa, and held appointments in several UN field missions, including as Acting Chief of Staff and Chief of Political Affairs at the UN Integrated Mission in Timor-Leste (UNMIT) (2007-2009).

Stewart is set to meet President Nicos Anastasiades and Turkish Cypriot leader Ersin Tatar, as well as other senior officials, civil society representatives, and diplomats over the coming weeks.