Veteran French diplomat Herve Ladsous was appointed the new UN peacekeeping chief on Friday by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.
Ladsous, chief of staff at the French Foreign Ministry, previously served as ambassador to China, Indonesia, East Timor and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, and as deputy ambassador to the UN in New York.
Ladsous will oversee UN peacekeeping operations in Haiti, Western Sahara, Lebanon, Sudan, Kosovo and elsewhere.
Ban said on Friday that Ladsous brings to his new job “an acute political judgment, strong crisis management capacities, especially in the area of peacekeeping [and] a profound understanding of the challenges facing the United Nations. His capacity to build consensus is recognized by his peers all over the world.”
By tradition, each of the five veto-wielding permanent members on the Security Council gets a top post in the UN Secretariat. In recent years, the French have held peacekeeping, just as the British have held humanitarian affairs and the Americans have held political affairs.
Ban praised the outgoing undersecretary-general for peacekeeping Alain Le Roy, who is also French, for his “able leadership ... during a very challenging period.” Le Roy was preceded by fellow French diplomat Jean-Marie Guehenno and before him by another Frenchman, Bernard Miyet.
Ladsous’ appointment comes as UN peacekeeping operations continue to grow in size and importance.
Nearly 120,000 people work at 15 UN peacekeeping operations on four continents, including about 98,000 uniformed personnel. That’s a fourfold increase in personnel since 1991.
Approved overall peacekeeping costs for the current fiscal year top US$7 billion.
The UN does not have its own military force, but depends on member states to donate military and police personnel for peacekeeping. The peacekeepers have helped disarm more than 400,000 former combatants in the past decade alone.