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.
A Slovakian in the Economic and Social Council Presidency
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Dulcie Leimbach is a co-founder, with Barbara Crossette, of PassBlue. For PassBlue and other publications, Leimbach has reported from New York and overseas from West Africa (Burkina Faso and Mali) and from Europe (Scotland, Sicily, Vienna, Budapest, Kyiv, Armenia, Iceland and The Hague). She has provided commentary on the UN for BBC World Radio, ARD German TV and Radio, NHK’s English channel, Background Briefing with Ian Masters/KPFK Radio in Los Angeles and the Foreign Press Association.
Previously, she was an editor for the Coalition for the UN Convention Against Corruption; from 2008 to 2011, she was the publications director of the United Nations Association of the USA. Before UNA, Leimbach was an editor at The New York Times for more than 20 years, editing and writing for most sections of the paper, including the Magazine, Book Review and Op-Ed. She began her reporting career in small-town papers in San Diego, Calif., and Boulder, Colo., graduating to the Rocky Mountain News in Denver and then working at The Times. Leimbach has been a fellow at the CUNY Graduate Center’s Ralph Bunche Institute for International Studies as well as at Yaddo, the artists’ colony in Saratoga Springs, N.Y.; taught news reporting at Hofstra University; and guest-lectured at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism and the CUNY Journalism School. She graduated from the University of Colorado and has an M.F.A. in writing from Warren Wilson College in North Carolina. She lives in Brooklyn, N.Y.