The former Lebanese Minister of Culture from 2000 to 2003, Ghassan Salame has been appointed as the new UN envoy to Libya by the UN Secretary General Antonio Gutterres according to a number of media sources.
Salame will also be the new head of the United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL). Salame will be the sixth envoy appointed since Gadaffi was overthrown in 2011. In November 2015, the present envoy and Special Representative of the (Secretary General(SRSG) in Libya, Martin Kobler, took over from Bernardino Leon, the fourth envoy. Leon was offered a well-remunerated position in the UAE after he left his post.
Salame is the second Lebanese to take on the role. Tarek Mitri was the second head of UNSMIL but held the job for less than two years leaving the job in August of 2014. The job is a tough task. Kobler was unable to push through the Libyan Political Agreement(LPA) by having the House of Representatives (HoR) vote confidence in the UN-brokered Government of National Accord (GNA). The vote of confidence failed twice, the last time on August 22 last year. Since that time, Kobler has not been able to gather together a group to amend the LPA and call together the HoR to hold another confidence vote as required by the LPA. Salame will be faced with the immediate task of trying to carry on the process which so far has had no success. Salame is apparently the 29th person to be offered the job of UNSMIL head. Salame is expected to take up his unenviable task the end of June.
After his stint as Lebanese Minister of Culture, Salame served as Senior Adviser for the UN Secretary-General from 2003 to 2006. Salame has taught international relations at the American University of Beirut, Saint Joseph University in Beirut and later at the University of Paris. While Lebanon’s Minister of Culture Salame served on various ministerial committee including one on the reform of the higher education system and another on productivity in public administration. He was also appointed Chairman of the Committee and Spokesman for the Arab Summit (March 2002) and the Francophone Summit (October 2002) both in Beirut the Lebanese capital.
At present, Salame is Dean of the Paris School of International Affairs and also a professor of International Relations. He is the author of several books, and sits on the board of several organizations including the International Crisis Group, and the International Peace Institute. Salame will face the so far intractable task of trying to form one united Libyan government by altering the terms of the Libyan Political Agreement in a manner that the main opposed parties will accept.