The U.N. Reform on Human Rights

An Interview With Jan Eliasson

Mr. Jan Eliasson, former Swedish minister of foreign affairs, is a good representative of the tradition of chivalry that Saint Bridget attributed to the Swedish people in the 14th century.  From 1994 to 2000, Eliasson served as Sweden’s secretary for foreign affairs, a key position in formulating and implementing foreign policy.  Earlier, he was Sweden’s ambassador to the United Nations.  During this period (1988-92), he also served as the U.N. secretary general’s personal representative on Iran/Iraq and was chairman of the U.N. General Assembly’s working group on emergency relief (1991), vice president of the Economic and Social Council (1991-92), and chairman of the U.N. Trust Fund for South Africa (1988-92).  In 1992, Eliasson was appointed as the first U.N. undersecretary general for humanitarian affairs.  During his tenure, he was involved in operations in Somalia, the Sudan, Mozambique, and the Balkans and also undertook initiatives concerning land mines, conflict prevention, and humanitarian action.  From 1980 to 1986, Mr. Eliasson took part in the U.N. mediation missions in the war between Iran and Iraq, headed by former Prime Minister Olof Palme.  More recently, Eliasson served as a mediator in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict for the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe and was a visiting professor at Uppsala University in Sweden, lecturing on mediation, conflict...

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