March 21, 2012

On March 20, 2012, the U.N. announced that Professor Jean-Marie Guéhenno has been appointed as Deputy Joint Special Envoy of the United Nations and the League of Arab States on Syria. Guéhenno will work alongside Joint Special Envoy and former Secretary-general Kofi Annan in addressing the ongoing humanitarian crisis in Syria, which has continued to escalate since 2011’s “Arab Spring.”

Guéhenno has extensive experience both with the United Nations and with humanitarian missions, having served eight years as Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations. During his tenure, Guéhenno oversaw Peacekeeping missions in eighteen countries, including Kosovo, Sudan, Liberia, and Haiti, and he led the largest expansion of UN Peacekeeping in the organization’s history. He has brought this experience to SIPA, where he teaches classes such as “Peace Operations in Fragile States,” and “International Conflict Resolution.” In addition, he is the Associate Director of SIPA’s Arnold A. Saltzman Institute for War and Peace Studies.

Guéhenno’s role as Deputy Joint Special Envoy will take him to Syria, whose government has been widely condemned for violence against protestors and civilians. The current conflict in Syria began in January 2011, alongside several other uprisings in the region which collectively became known as the Arab Spring. Protestors in Syria demand the resignation of President Bashar al-Assad and the dissolution of his government. While other regional conflicts have settled, Syria has attracted international attention due to escalating violence against protestors, civilians, and journalists.

 In February, the United Nations and the League of Arab States appointed Kofi Annan as Deputy Joint Special Envoy in response to the crisis. In Syria, Annan and Guéhenno will work towards stopping the violence and allowing humanitarian agencies access to provide relief throughout the country. Joining them as Deputy Joint Special Envoy will be Nasser al-Kidwa.

Before his time at SIPA and the UN, Guéhenno worked extensively in international European politics. He served as director of policy planning in the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the chairman of the French Institute of Higher Defense Studies, and the ambassador to the Western European Union. Guéhenno also acts as a non-resident senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, as Chairperson of the Advisory Board of the United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR), and as a member of the board for the Center of Humanitarian Dialogue in Geneva.