United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon announced on 30 March 2016 the appointment of Elizabeth Spehar of Canada as his new Special Representative and Head of the United Nations Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP). Ms. Spehar will also perform the function of Deputy to the Secretary-General’s Special Adviser on Cyprus. She is expected to take up her new appointment later in the year.
She will succeed Lisa M. Buttenheim of the United States, who will take up the position of Assistant Secretary-General for Field Support at United Nations Headquarters. The Secretary-General is grateful for Ms. Buttenheim’s dedication and exemplary leadership of UNFICYP over the past six years. She also provided invaluable support to the Secretary-General’s mission of good offices as the Deputy to his Special Adviser on Cyprus. During her tenure, significant progress has been achieved in the negotiations towards a comprehensive settlement.
Ms. Spehar has extensive political experience in several senior positions with the Department of Political Affairs since 2007. Currently Director of the Policy and Mediation Division, she has previously served as Director for the Americas and Europe Division and Director of the Europe Division, engaging extensively on key political issues facing the region. She also served briefly as Interim Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of UNFICYP in 2008.
Prior to joining the United Nations, Ms. Spehar was a senior official with the Organization of American States for more than 12 years, working to promote democracy and develop that Organization’s dialogue and conflict-resolution instruments.
Ms. Spehar holds a Bachelor of Arts with honours from Queen’s University in Canada; a master’s degree in international affairs from Carleton University’s Norman Paterson School of International Affairs, also in Canada; and a Diplôme d’Etudes Supérieures from the University of Pau in France.
Born in Port Arthur, Canada, she has a daughter.