Mr. Ross, who replaces Peter van Walsum, has had a long and distinguished career with the US State Department in which he focused on Middle Eastern and North African affairs.
A former US Ambassador to Syria and to Algeria, he was most recently Senior Adviser for the Middle East and North Africa at the US Mission to the UN.
“Mr. Ross will work with the parties and neighbouring countries based on the most recent Security Council Resolution 1813 and previous resolutions, building on progress made to date, in pursuit of a just, lasting and mutually acceptable political solution, which will provide for the self-determination of the people of Western Sahara,” UN spokesperson Michele Montas told reporters.
The Department of State for Foreign Affairs of the USA has welcomed the appointment of Mr. Ross to the position of the Personal Envoy of the UN Secretary General for Western Sahara, calling on the parties to the conflict, Polisario Front and Morocco “to engage in new rounds of direct negotiations at the beginning of this year. "
The UN Secretary-General had informed last August the two parties to the conflict, Morocco and the Polisario Front, as well as members of the Security Council of his intention to appoint Mr. Christopher Ross as new personal representative for Western Sahara, but without making it publicly.
Several rounds of UN-led talks, bringing together representatives from Morocco and the Frente Polisario, held last year resulted in the parties agreeing to continue negotiations in good faith towards a solution to the issue.
Morocco was reluctant to declare its acceptance of the appointment of Ross, and thus blocked the process of negotiations for many months, so as to pressure the UN many observers indicated.
Polisario Front, on the other hand clearly declared its approval of the designation since the first time the name of the US diplomat was mentioned last September 2008.