Mr Zahir Tanin

Dates served: 5 October 2015 to 4 November 2021

The United Nations Secretary-General announced the appointment of Zahir Tanin as his Special Representative and Head of the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) on 19 August 2015.

Prior to this assignment, Mr Tanin was the Permanent Representative and Ambassador of Afghanistan at the United Nations from 2006 to 2015. During his tenure as Permanent Representative, Mr Tanin also served in a number of other significant roles within the United Nations. He was elected as a Vice-President of the 63rd, 65th and 67th Sessions of the General Assembly on behalf of the Asian Group. In this capacity Mr Tanin served as acting President of the General Assembly several times including during High-Level General Assembly Sessions. As Permanent Representative of Afghanistan, Mr Tanin has participated in high-level meetings and has delivered statements on behalf of the Government of Afghanistan in the Security Council, General Assembly, and other events at the UN in New York and around the world.

Mr Tanin was appointed Chair of the Intergovernmental Negotiations (IGN) on Security Council Reform and Vice-Chair of the Open-ended Working Group during the 63rd General Assembly in 2008. As Chair of the IGN, Mr Tanin presided over eight rounds of negotiations and produced the negotiating text as the basis of engagement of member states in search of reaching an ultimate agreement on Council reform. Mr Tanin was reappointed to chair the negotiations during the next five consecutive General Assembly sessions. In this capacity he attended a number of convenings across the globe, including in Brazil, China, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, Qatar, and Turkey. His key remarks from these visits along with other statements were published in Afghanistan on the World Stage in 2014.

In 2014 Mr Tanin was appointed Chair of the Fifth Biennial Meeting of States (BMS5) to Consider Meeting the Implementation of the Programme of Action to Prevent, Combat and Eradicate the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All Its Aspects.

On behalf of Afghanistan, Mr Tanin also served as a Vice Chair of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, and has chaired or attended numerous global meetings in this capacity.

Before his appointment as Permanent Representative of Afghanistan and Ambassador to the United Nations, Mr Tanin worked for more than a decade with the BBC including as an editor for the BBC World Service, Afghanistan and Central Asia from 2001 to 2003 and as an Editor for Afghanistan of the BBC Persian/Pashto Section from 2003 to 2006.  Amongst other programmes and publications, his corresponding landmark 29-part program, The Oral History of Afghanistan in the 20th Century, was broadcast on the BBC.

Before joining the BBC, Mr Tanin was a research fellow in International Relations at the London School of Economic and Political Science (LSE) of the University of London for two years. During this time he co-authored The Communist Regime in Afghanistan, a study of the political and social changes in Afghanistan from 1978 to 1992, which was published in Europe Asia Studies.  He also authored Afghanistan in the Twentieth Century.

In 1980 Mr Tanin began work as a journalist in Kabul. He was Editor-in-Chief of Akhbar-e-Haftah and Sabawoon Magazine until 1992 and served as the Vice President of the Journalist Union of Afghanistan from 1987-1992.

Mr Tanin was born in Afghanistan in 1956.  He received his Medical Doctorate (MD) from Kabul Medical University and is fluent in English, Pashto, and Dari and also speaks French and Russian. He is married to Dr Zarghoona Sediq Tanin and has two children.


Farid Zarif

Dates served: 1 August 2011 to 29 August 2015

Director of Europe and Latin America Division of DPKO since August of 2010, he served as the Chief of Staff and Acting DSRSG with UNMIS in Sudan, and prior to that, as the Chief of Staff of UNAMI in Iraq since January 2004. Following 3 years of service as the UN Deputy Humanitarian Coordinator in Iraq since January 1997, he was appointed as Chief and, later, Director in the Office of Iraq Programme at the UN headquarters in New York.
He was Chief Elections Officer with UNMIL in Liberia from 1994-96, and served in as Referendum/Elections Coordinator with the UN missions in Eritrea and South Africa in 1993 and 1995, respectively.
In 1991-92, he was the Secretary-General of the Economic Advisory Council, Chambers of Commerce and Industry of Afghanistan. Serving his national governments, he was the Principle Foreign Policy Advisor to the President of Afghanistan from 1989-1991, and Deputy Foreign Minister from 1987-1989. Prior to that, Mr. Zarif was Ambassador, Permanent Representative of his country to the United Nations in New York from 1980.  He joined the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Afghanistan in 1974 and served in various departments in increasingly responsible positions, as well as Charge d’Affaires in Havana.
He has studied Law, Diplomacy and International Relations at the Faculty of Law and Political Science of Kabul University, the Afghan Institute of Diplomacy and Oxford University. He is married with two sons.


Lamberto Zannier (Italy)

Dates served: 20 June 2008 to 1 July 2011

Mr. Zannier, who presently holds the rank of Ambassador, has worked for the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs on EU Common Foreign and Security Policy issues, headed the OSCE Conflict Prevention Centre, and was the Italian Representative in the Executive Council of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons. Mr. Zannier’s extensive experience with politico-military issues dates back many years; he has been Chairman for negotiations on the Adaptation of the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (CFE), and he has also been seconded by the Italian Government to NATO as Head of the Disarmament, Arms Control and Cooperative Security Section.  
Mr. Zannier joined the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs in 1978 as a career diplomat and served the Italian Embassies in Abu Dhabi, Vienna and The Hague. He has also worked for the FAO Legal Office in Rome. Mr. Zannier holds a Doctorate in Law from the Trieste University, and is married with two sons and two daughters.


Joachim Rücker (Germany)

Dates served: 1 September 2006 to 20 June 2008

Mr. Rücker was Deputy Special-Representative and Head of the Economic Reconstruction Pillar of UNMIK. Prior to joining UNMIK, he served in a variety of international and national posts including as Deputy High Representative in Sarajevo, and for almost a decade as Mayor of the Industrial city of Sindelfingen, Germany. Mr. Rücker, who holds a Doctorate in International Economics, is also a German Ambassador and has held various positions in the German Foreign Service both at Headquarters and abroad. He began his engagement with the Balkans during his tenure as foreign policy advisor to the Social Democratic parliamentary group in the German Bundestag in the early 1990s.


Søren Jessen-Petersen (Denmark)

Dates served: 16 August 2004 to 30 June 2006

Mr. Jessen-Petersen has enjoyed a long and distinguished career as an international civil servant, having worked with the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, the European Union, and the UN Secretariat. He also served as the EU Special Representative in Skopje from February to June 2004. Prior to this, Mr. Jessen-Petersen was Chairman of the EU Stability Pact’s Migration, Asylum, and Refugees Regional Initiative (MARRI), where he developed and directed a strategy to manage population movements in the Western Balkans. From January 1998 to December 2001, he served as UNHCR Assistant High Commissioner, directly supervising all UNHCR global bureaus.


Holkeri, Harri Hermani (Finland)

Dates served: 25 August 2003 to 11 June 2004

Mr. Holkeri, a long-standing Finnish politician, served his country in the parliament for many years before becoming Prime Minister from 1987 to 1991. After leaving domestic politics, his personal qualities paved the way for international positions of responsibility. He served as a member of the International Body on Decommissioning in Northern Ireland from 1995 to 1996. This led to his being on the team which helped to secure the Good Friday Agreement in 1998, for which he was awarded the Honorary Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire. Mr. Holkeri then served as a speaker of the UN General Assembly from 2000 to 2001.


Michael Steiner (Germany)

Dates served: 14 February 2002 to 8 July 2003

Mr. Steiner has been deeply involved in German foreign affairs throughout his career, and has held of number of positions in the Balkans including those of Principal Deputy High Representative in Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Germany member on the contact Group for the former Yugoslavia. Mr. Steiner also served as Director General in the Federal Foreign Office, as the German Chancellor’s Foreign and Security Policy Advisor, and as Ambassador to the Czech Republic before coming to Kosovo. 

Hans Haekkerup (Denmark) 

Dates served: 13 January 2001 to 31 December 2001 

Mr. Haekkerup was elected as a Member of Parliament of Denmark in 1979, and served in a variety of government positions including as Minister for Defence from January 1993 until his appointment as UNMIK SRSG. After his departure, Mr. Haekkerup wrote a book on Kosovo and spoke at many conferences on NATO’s role in the world.

Bernard Kouchner (France) 
Dates served: 15 July 1999 to 12 January 2001

Dr. Kouchner has played an important role on the French political scene for the past 20 years, having held a number of ministerial positions in different French Governments. In the humanitarian field, Dr. Kouchner founded Médecins Sans Frontières, a Paris-based non-profit humanitarian organization made of voluntary medical personnel who contribute their time and expertise in the developing world.


Sérgio Vieira de Mello (Brasil)

Dates served: 11 June 1999 to 14 July 1999

Mr. de Mello was a Brazilian diplomat who served the United Nations for over 34 years, earning respect and praise around the world for his efforts in the humanitarian and political programmes of the UN. He was killed in Baghdad along with 21 other members of his staff on 19 August 2003, while working as the Secretary-General’s Special Representative in Iraq.