Ban appoints Irish major general to head up UN’s oldest peacekeeping mission

UNTSO Headquarters in Jerusalem. UN Photo/John Isaac

18 June 2013 – United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon announced the appointment today of Major General Michel Finn, of Ireland, as head of Mission and Chief of Staff of the Jerusalem-based UN Truce Supervision Organization (UNTSO), the first such operation the world body set up almost 60 years ago.

“Major General Finn succeeds Major General Juha Kilpia of Finland, who will complete his assignment on 30 June 2013,” said a statement issued by a UN spokesperson in New York.

“The Secretary-General is grateful to Major General Kilpia for his dedication and effective leadership of UNTSO over the past two years,” the statement added.

Maj.-Gen. Finn brings to his new position extensive command and peacekeeping experience attained through service at the national and international levels. Prior to his appointment, he was the General Officer commanding the Second Infantry, a position he held since 2010. In 2003 and 2004, he commanded the first Irish infantry force in the NATO-led KFOR mission in Kosovo.

Maj.-Gen. Finn also served as the Director of Logistics in the European Union (EU) Military Staff within the EU General Council Secretariat in Brussels (2007-2010). His experience with UN peacekeeping includes stints in the Golan Heights and Lebanon.

UNTSO, established in May 1948 to assist the UN Mediator and the Truce Commission in supervising the observance of the truce in Palestine, has a current strength of more than 150 military observers, nearly 100 international civilian personnel and 120 local civilian staff.

Since its inception, UNTSO has performed various tasks entrusted to it by the UN Security Council, including the supervision of the General Armistice Agreements of 1949 and the observation of the ceasefire in the Suez Canal area and the Golan Heights following the Arab-Israeli war of June 1967.

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