Sixty-years-old Canadian Colin Stewart is the 24th appointed UNSG`s Special Representative and head of the UN peacekeeping force in Cyprus.
But his assigned job – as of last week – to assist efforts towards the divided island’s reunification is far from easy. All his predecessors have failed, afterall.
As a first step, he has managed to bring together the estranged two community leaders together after some time at a reception on Tuesday at the UN-controlled Ledra Palace.
Both President Nicos Anastasiades and Turkish Cypriot leader Ersin Tatar have responded positively to the social get-together under UN auspices. But expectations are very low over the much-desired goal of suspended reunification talks to re-start.
Cyprus is divided since a 1974 invasion by Turkey which still maintains troops in the breakaway north.
Stewart has made the first step in bringing the two sides together but a lot more are needed and he knows it.
Speaking upon his arrival, he sent a message of hope when he said: “I look forward to continuing the work of the United Nations in Cyprus and hope to forge strong working relationships with all stakeholders and learn from them so that, together, we can hopefully bring a lasting peace to the island.”
He added: “I am honored to be here in Cyprus as the Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Deputy Special Adviser. I am keenly aware of the importance of UNFICYP’s mandate for the lives of all Cypriots and I look forward to working with all of you and our partners in Cyprus.”
Until recently, Stewart served as Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of the United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO) (2017-2021).
Prior to MINURSO, he served as Deputy Head and Chief of Staff of the United Nations Office to the African Union (UNOAU) in Addis Ababa.
And he has held appointments in several United Nations field missions, including as Acting Chief of Staff and Chief of Political Affairs at the United Nations Integrated Mission in Timor-Leste (UNMIT) (2007-2009).
He was a Canadian diplomat from 1990 to 1997, and is a graduate of Laval University in Canada. He is fluent in English and French.