7 January 2009

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

Biographical Note



UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has informed the Security Council of his intention to appoint Christopher Ross of the United States as his Personal Envoy for Western Sahara and Michael von der Schulenburg of Germany as his Executive Representative for the United Nations Integrated Peacebuilding Office in Sierra Leone (UNIPSIL).  Mr. Ross will replace Peter van Walsum and Mr. von der Schulenburg will replace Victor Da Silva Angelo.

The Secretary-General is grateful to Mr. van Walsum for his dedicated service on the important issue of Western Sahara.  The Secretary-General is also grateful to Mr. Da Silva Angelo, who currently serves as Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of the United Nations Mission in the Central African Republic and Chad (MINURCAT), for his committed service in Sierra Leone. 

Mr. Ross will work with the parties, and neighbouring countries based on the most recent Security Council resolution 1813 (2008) and previous resolutions, building on progress made to date, in pursuit of a just, lasting and mutually acceptable political solution, which will provide for the self-determination of the people of Western Sahara.

He takes up his new assignment following a long and distinguished career with the United States Department of State, where he focused especially on Middle Eastern and North African affairs.  He is a former United States Ambassador to Syria and to Algeria, and was most recently Senior Adviser for the Middle East and North Africa at the United States Mission to the United Nations. 

After retiring in 1999, Mr. Ross returned to active service to help coordinate United States public diplomacy towards the Arab and Muslim worlds (2001-2003).  He then served as Senior Adviser to the United States Embassy in Baghdad (2004) and Special Adviser in the Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs, working on Iraq.  From 2006-2007, he was Senior Adviser to the United States Delegations to the General Assembly.

Mr. Ross’s earlier postings in the United States Foreign Service include:  Executive Assistant to the Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs; Director of Regional Affairs of the Bureau of Near Eastern and South Asian Affairs; Deputy Chief of Mission and Chargé d’Affaires in Algiers; Press Attaché in Beirut, Lebanon; and Director of the American Cultural Center in Fez, Morocco. 

He holds a Bachelor’s degree in Oriental (Near Eastern) studies from Princeton University, and a Master of Arts in international relations and Middle Eastern studies from Johns Hopkins University.  He speaks English, Arabic and French, and has taught Arabic at Columbia and Princeton Universities.

Born on 3 March 1943, he has one son.

Mr. von der Schulenburg, who is currently Acting Executive Representative for UNIPSIL, is uniquely suited to lead the first fully integrated United Nations peacebuilding mission.  He accumulated a wide range of professional experience covering virtually all aspects of United Nations activities, from development assistance to humanitarian aid and managerial reforms, and from combating illicit drug trafficking to conflict resolution and political affairs.

His long and distinguished career with the United Nations includes serving in various challenging positions and many of the world’s trouble spots.  In addition to holding various senior positions at Headquarters, he served mostly in field assignments.  These include long-term assignments in Haiti, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran and Iraq.  He further participated in a number of important short-term United Nations field assignments and missions around the world that included Afghanistan, Syria and Somalia.  In his most recent assignment, he served as Principal Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Political Affairs with the United Nations Assistance Mission in Iraq (UNAMI).

Over the years, Mr. von der Schulenburg has also made important contributions to internal strategy discussions of the United Nations and has written a number of analytical and policy papers.

Born on 16 October 1948 in Germany, he holds a Master’s degree in economics from the Free University in Berlin.  He also studied at the London School of Economics and the Ecole Nationale d’Administration in Paris.  He is married and has four children.

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