5 August 2008

Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York



United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has appointed Michael C. Williams of the United Kingdom as Special Coordinator for Lebanon and Johan Verbeke of Belgium as Special Representative and Head of the United Nations Observer Mission in Georgia (UNOMIG).  Mr. Verbeke will replace Jean Arnault and Mr. Williams will replace Mr. Verbeke.

The Secretary-General expressed his appreciation to Mr. Arnault for his exemplary dedication and effective leadership of UNOMIG.

Mr. Williams is very familiar with the Middle East, having previously served as United Nations Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process and the Secretary-General’s Special Adviser on the Situation in the Middle East, before his appointment as the United Kingdom Special Representative for the Middle East and Special Projects.  Prior to that, he was the Director for the Asia and the Pacific Division in the Department of Political Affairs.  From 1999 to 2005, Mr. Williams was the Special Adviser to two United Kingdom Foreign Secretaries, Robin Cook (1999-2001) and Jack Straw (2001-2005).

He held a number of senior positions with the United Nations in the 1990s, including Director of Human Rights in the United Nations Transitional Administration in Cambodia (UNTAC) and Director of Information in the United Nations Protection Force in Former Yugoslavia (UNPROFOR).   His previous experience ranges from working for the International Institute for Strategic Studies, the BBC World Service and Amnesty International.  He is a member of the Executive Committee and Council of Chatham House (Royal Institute for International Affairs).  He has written widely on Asian politics, international security and peacekeeping.

Mr. Williams was born in Bridgend, Wales, on 11 June 1949.  He received a Bachelor of Science degree in international relations from University College, London, in 1971, a Master of Science degree in the politics of developing areas from the School of Oriental and African Studies, London, in 1973, and subsequently earned a doctorate in politics from the same institution.  Mr. Williams is married to Isobelle Jaques and has two children.

Mr. Verbeke, a career diplomat, joined the Belgian Ministry of Foreign Affairs in 1981 and has been posted in the Middle East (Lebanon and Jordan), Central Africa (Burundi) and South America (Chile).  He also served as Deputy Chief of Mission in Washington, D.C.  In his last posting in Brussels, he served as Chef de Cabinet of the Minister for Foreign Affairs.

He has been the Permanent Representative of Belgium to the United Nations in New York.  In that capacity, he served on the Security Council and on the Peacebuilding Commission.

During his career, he has carried out a number of assignments for Belgium, including that of Special Envoy of the Prime Minister to the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) (2002-2005); Personal Representative of the Minister for Foreign Affairs for Counter-Terrorism (2003); Facilitator of the President of the General Assembly for the negotiation of General Assembly resolutions on Millennium Development Goals implementation and Economic and Social Council reform (2005-2006); leader of the Security Council mission to Kosovo (April 2007); and Chairman of the Security Council sanctions committees on Côte d’Ivoire, Iran and Al-Qaida/Taliban.

Following his law studies in Belgium, Mr. Verbeke obtained a Master of Laws (LLM) at Yale University Law School in 1978, and a Diplôme d’Etudes Supérieures Européennes (DES) at Université de Nancy in 1975.  Mr. Verbeke was born in Ghent in 1951.  He is married and has three children.

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