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Guterres appoints head of UN mission in South Sudan

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Moses Kuwema 

United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres announced Friday, the appointment of Nicholas Haysom of South Africa as his Special Representative and Head of the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS).

And Secretary-General Guterres has appointed Ingibjörg Sólrún Gísladóttir of Iceland as his new Deputy Special Representative for Political Affairs and Electoral Assistance of the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI).

Haysom will succeed David Shearer of New Zealand, to whom the Secretary-General is grateful for his exemplary leadership of UNMISS during the time of critical developments and challenges in South Sudan.

Mr. Haysom is currently the Secretary-General’s Special Adviser for Southern Africa, a position he has held since October 2020.  He is a lawyer with a long international career focused on democratic governance, constitutional and electoral reforms, reconciliation and peace processes.

From 2019 to 2020, Mr. Haysom served as the Secretary-General’s Special Adviser on Sudan.  From 2018 to 2019, he was the Secretary-General’s Special Representative and Head of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Somalia (UNSOM).  

He also served as Special Representative of the Secretary‑General for Afghanistan and Head of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) from 2014 to 2016, and as Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Afghanistan from 2012 to 2014.  He served as Director for Political, Peacekeeping and Humanitarian Affairs in the Executive Office of the United Nations Secretary-General from 2007 to 2012, and as Head of the Office of Constitutional Support for the United Nations Assistance Mission in Iraq (UNAMI) from 2005 to 2007.

Mr. Haysom was also the principal adviser to the Mediator in the Sudanese Peace Process from 2002 to 2005. He was involved in the Burundi Peace Talks as Chair of the committee negotiating constitutional issues from 1999 to 2002 under the facilitation of the late former President of South Africa Nelson Mandela, and served in the Government of South Africa, including as Chief Legal and Constitutional Adviser in the Office of the President from 1994 to 1999.

He holds a degree in law from the Universities of Natal and Cape Town in South Africa, as well as honorary doctorates from the University of Cape Town and the New York Law School.

And Gísladóttir of Iceland will succeed Alice Walpole of the United Kingdom, who will complete her assignment on February 28.  

The Secretary-General is grateful to Ms. Walpole for her dedicated service to the United Nations in Iraq since 2017.

Ms. Gísladóttir brings a wealth of diplomatic and political experience to the position, including from her recent role as Director of the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights at the Organization for Security and Co‑operation in Europe (OSCE), and most recently as the Head of its Election Observation Mission in Ukraine.  

She also served as Regional Director in Europe and Central Asia for the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN-Women), as well as its Country Representative in Turkey and Afghanistan.

In addition, she was the Minister for Foreign Affairs of Iceland from 2007 to 2009, a Member of Parliament for seven years and Mayor of Reykjavík for nine years.  She is a member of the Nordic Women’s Mediators Network.

Ms. Gísladóttir holds a bachelor’s degree in history and literature from the University of Iceland and completed post-graduate studies in history at the University of Copenhagen.

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