Terje Roed-Larsen

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You are Terje Roed-Larsen, UN Emissary to the Israel & Palestine

"Terje Roed-Larsen has always conducted himself with objectivity, professionalism and compassion" --Kofi Annan

"The Palestinian Authority, despite consistent promises by its leadership, has made no progress on its core obligation to take immediate action on the ground to end violence and combat terror, and to reform and reorganize the Palestinian Authority."

"The UN is neither anti-Semitic nor anti-Israel"

You were born November 22, 1947 in Bergen, Norway. You began your career as an academic, studying history, philosophy and sociology. You then taught Sociology and Philosophy at the Universities of Bergen and Oslo, before establishing the FAFO Institute for Applied Social Science in Oslo in 1981.

In spring of 1994 you were nominated by then United Nations Secretary General, Boutros Boutros-Ghali, to become a Deputy Secretary General with the title of Special Coordinator in the Occupied Territories. The scope of your position was increased when in October of 1999 you began your role as personal representative to the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) and the Palestinian Authority.

Your role in the Middle East peace process began when you were appointed Director of FAFO (Fagbevegelsens Forsknings Organisasjon), an institute for applied social science, in 1981. It was in this capacity that you began facilitating secret discussions between Israeli and Palestinian academics in Oslo. Soon the scope of the discussions broadened and intensified. Your initiation of these secret channels of negotiation would eventually lead representatives of the Labor Government of Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) to become involved. The process culminated in the signing of the Declaration of Principles (DOP) on Sept. 13, 1993. Shortly after the signing of the DOP, you were promoted to the post of Norwegian Deputy Foreign Minister. 

Your political objective in the Occupied Territories was to foster a lasting peace agreement between the Israelis and the Palestinians. In your role as UN Special Coordinator in the Occupied Territories you facilitated the provision of economic, social and other assistance to the Palestinians in the territories. In addition, you facilitated coordination among the United Nations programs and agencies operating in the territories -- namely, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF).

Following the outbreak of the Intifada (an uprising by Palestinians that protested Israeli occupation) in 2000, and the eruption of violence in the territories and retaliation by the Israeli military, you were vocally critical of both Israelis and Palestinians. In addition, you bluntly expressed your opinion about corruption in the Palestinian Authority, and the late Yasir Arafat’s frequent unwillingness to make progress towards peace. In response to your critical statements concerning the PA and Yasir Arafat in 2004, the PA issued a statement declaring that you were “unwelcome in the Palestinian territories.” Previously, you did not support an effort by the Israeli and American governments to boycott Yasir Arafat and not meet with him. You believe the solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict lies in an Israeli withdrawal to the 1967 border that existed prior to the Six-Day War, the so-called “Green Line.” This would entail a negotiated solution to the matter of the settlements, which you consider illegal, as well as finding a just solution to the matter of the Palestinian refugees. As a representative of the United Nations, you came under criticism of being too supportive of the Palestinian cause and being unsympathetic to the havoc wrought by suicide bombings that plagued Israel. You are critical of the Israeli army’s use of force, and believe that it too often uses disproprtionate force in response to rocket attacks. Nonetheless, you emphasize that Israel must work with the UN to achieve peace and cannot isolate itself internationally. You support a secure Israeli state with defined borders, but do not support the Israeli government’s military and settlement policies in the territories. Indeed, your success as a negotiator is impressive, having negotiated with Syria, Lebanon and Israel the Israeli withdrawal from Southern Lebanon and the end of the Israeli occupation there, as well as negotiating in 2005, on behalf of the UN Secretary-General, the Syrian military withdrawal from Lebanon. You have long seen the UN playing an influential role as a supporter of peace, an aid donor to the Palestinians, a member of the Quartet for Peace, and a mediator in the negotiations. You believe that efforts to achieve peace are not futile but yearn for the day that both sides will put down their guns and sit down to talk.

Indeed, it is because of this stance, and because of your reputation as a skillful negotiator, that Secretary General Ban ki-Moon called you back to service as the UN’s Special Emissary to the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict. In light of his new “Break the Log Jam” initiative, he needs someone on the ground to represent him, someone who has credibility with all sides. Through your work with the UN, and your later work as head of the International Peace Institute (an organization that “promotes the prevention and settlement of conflict”) you were seen by Secretary General Ban as his indispensible man. The reputation of the United Nations very much rests on your shoulders, and your work with Dame Catherine Ashton and Special Envoy Tony Blair is crucial to making the UN, and the Quartet, relevant in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. The Secretary General is staking his own reputation on your status as a credible, neutral, and inventive arbiter.

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