Jan Kubis, a 59-year-old former Slovakian foreign minister, has been named the UN’s new special representative to Afghanistan in an appointment announced Nov. 23 by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. Kubis replaces Staffan de Mistura, an Italian-Swedish diplomat whose term began in March 2010 and ends on Dec. 31.
Kubis will also be head of the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan, known as Unama. He has been executive secretary of the UN Economic Commission for Europe, based in Vienna, since 2009 and served in the late 1990s as the UN’s special envoy in Tajikistan and chief of the UN mission of observers there, helping to oversee the country’s first elections after a civil war.
He served as Slovakia’s foreign minister from 2006 to 2009 and held stints as the chairman of the Council of Europe’s committee of ministers and as secretary-general of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe. He is a graduate of the Moscow State Institute of International Relations, is married to Jaroslava Kubišová and has one daughter.
In December, a major international conference on Afghanistan will be held in Bonn, Germany, focusing on the country’s stability and economic development. American troops are slated to leave Afghanistan by 2014, news that the government both welcomed and found alarming, given the continuing devastation wrought by Taliban fighters in the countryside and the capital. This month, Afghan politicians met to discuss the possibility of America staying on, with conditions.