Mr Zahir Tanin

Special Representative of the Secretary-General
and Head of the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK)

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.


Barrie Lynne Freeman

Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General (DSRSG)

Barrie Freeman was appointed Deputy Special Representative for the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) on 22 December 2020. Until her appointment, she had been serving as Political Director and Deputy Head of the Peacebuilding Support Office (PBSO) in the Department of Political and Peacebuilding Affairs (DPPA) of the United Nations since January 2018.

Ms. Freeman was Chief of Staff, and before that Director of Political Affairs, of the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA) from 2014 to 2017. Before joining the United Nations, Ms. Freeman served as Director for North Africa with the National Democratic Institute (NDI) from 2011 to 2014, overseeing a wide range of political development programs that included support to election processes, civil society development, legislative strengthening, political party development and promoting the participation of women, youth and marginalized communities in political and decision-making processes. Pior to that she served as NDI’s Deputy Regional Director for Central and West Africa, managing a diverse portfolio of country programs across the region.

Before joining NDI in 2002, Ms. Freeman spent approximately 15 years with the U.S. State Department, working in the political, economic and consular sections of U.S. embassies in Tunisia, Morocco, Lesotho and Nigeria. During postings in Washington, D.C., she served in the Office of the Inspector General and the Office of African Analysis. While at the State Department, she earned the Department’s Meritorious and Superior Honor Awards, as well as a Distinguished Analyst Award. Ms. Freeman has also been a contributing writer to Freedom in the World, an annual survey of political rights and civil liberties published by Freedom House, and served in a volunteer capacity as Vice-Chair of the Board of Elections for the City of Takoma Park, Maryland.

Ms. Freeman has a Bachelor of Arts degree from Tulane University in New Orleans, Louisiana and completed master’s coursework at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. In addition to native English, Ms. Freeman is fluent in French. She is the mother of three adult children.


Mari Yamashita
Representative of the UN Secretary-General,
Head of the UN Office in Belgrade

Mari Yamashita was appointed Representative of the Secretary-General and Director of the United Nations Office in Belgrade (UNOB) on 22 December 2020. Her previous assignments include Director of the Asia and the Pacific Division in the Departments of Peacebuilding and Political Affairs and Peace Operations (DPPA-DPO), Deputy Head and Director of the Peacebuilding Support Office (PBSO) and Director of the United Nations Information Centre in Japan (UNIC Tokyo).  Her service with the Organization spans over 30 years in preventive diplomacy and peacebuilding in Asia and the Pacific, focusing on good offices efforts in Fiji, Myanmar, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Timor-Leste among others and on relations with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).  In Southern Africa, she supported the Secretary-General’s Special Representatives for Angola, Northern Uganda and Zimbabwe. As an electoral and political expert, she managed over 20 electoral assistance projects in Africa, Asia, Central and South America.  
In the field, she was Head of the Political Affairs Office in the United Nations Mission in Nepal (UNMIN) (2010), Deputy Chief Electoral Officer with the United Nations Transitional Administration in Eastern Slavonia, Baranja and Western Sirmium (UNTAES) (1996-1997) and United Nations Coordinator of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe-United Nations Joint Operation in Armenia (1994).  Ms. Yamashita joined the Organization in December 1990 as an Associate Political Affairs Officer in the Secretary-General’s Office for Research and the Collection of Information.   
Mari Yamashita has a Master of Arts degree in Law and Diplomacy from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy in the United States, and a Bachelor of Laws degree from Jochi Daigaku (Sophia University, Japan.  She speaks Japanese, English, German, French and basic Finnish.  A national of Japan, she is married and has one son. 


Preston Pentony

Head of the Mitrovica Regional Office

Mr. Preston Pentony joined UNMIK in May 2015 and took up duties as Head of the Mitrovica Regional Office in September 2020. He has over 20 years of international experience leading political teams; providing strategic analysis in support of peace operations; leading outreach initiatives such as presentations to national parliaments and negotiations with national governments; and designing interventions in areas such as community reconciliation, security sector reform, and support to electoral operations. 
Prior to joining UNMIK, he served as head of the Political Analysis Section of the UN Mission in Liberia (2013-14) and also served with the UN in Timor-Leste (2002 - 2004 and 2007 – 2012) and Afghanistan (2006-2007).
He also has experience in Africa, Asia and Latin America with international institutions such as the World Bank and non-governmental organizations, developing and leading programmes in areas such as civil society support, human rights, and transformative leadership in post-conflict contexts.
Mr. Pentony holds a Master in Public Affairs from the School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University and a Bachelor of Arts with concentrations in English, Spanish and International Studies from West Virginia University. He also studied for one year at Universidad Iberoamericana in Mexico City.


Sandi Arnold

Chief of Mission Support

On 4 February 2017, Sandi Arnold of United States of America was appointed as the Chief of Mission Support of the UN Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK), and brings to the position more than 20 years of experience leading and managing integrated teams in peacekeeping and humanitarian affairs across the globe, as well as wider leadership in policy, strategy, management, operations, and crisis management.  

Most recently, she served as the Deputy Director of Operations of the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) in Syria and led an integrated team for provision of core education (101 schools), health (26 health installations), social and relief services as well as delivering a massive humanitarian emergency response programme (cash and food) to almost 450,000 Palestine refugees. From 2014 to 2015, Ms. Arnold was the Ebola Crisis Team Leader for Department of Peacekeeping (DPKO) and Department of Field Support (DFS) in New York.  Between 2012-2014, she served as the Deputy Chief of Staff of the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) in Juba.

Ms. Arnold began her United Nations career at the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO)  in 1999. She served in subsequent postings with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in Vienna from 1999 to 2004; she was also posted in Baghdad as a Nuclear Weapons Inspector.  Ms. Arnold joined peacekeeping in 2004 and served in a diverse range of roles in Freetown (2004-2006), in Abyei, Ed Damazin, Juba, and Khartoum (2006-2008), in New York (2008-2010), Juba (2011-2012) and undertook shorter missions in Haiti, Kosovo, and Sudan.

Ms. Arnold holds an M.A. degree in International Policy Studies, with a specialization in nonproliferation, from the Monterey Institute of International Studies in California. 


Margarethe Matic

Head of the Office of Community Support 

Ms. Margarethe Matic took up her duties as UNMIK Head of the Office of Community Support in October 2020. She has been serving in United Nations peace operations since 2004. In 2014 she was appointed as Deputy Chief of Staff and in 2018 Chief of the Civil Affairs Division in the United Nations Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA). Previously she was Chief of the Civil Affairs Section in the United Nations Operations in Cote d’Ivoire (ONUCI) and has also worked as a Civil Affairs Officer and Head of Field Offices in the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH). Earlier Ms. Matic served as the Municipal Representative of the Municipality of Obiliq/Obilić and in the Office of Communities and Returns at UNMIK.

Before joining the United Nations, Ms. Matic worked in humanitarian and emergency assistance for Caritas Austria; in Albania and in Kosovo, followed by an assignment with the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) in Kosovo.

Earlier in her career, Ms. Matic worked in the Press and Public Information Service of the Archdiocese of Vienna and the City of Vienna, organising events throughout Europe, Asia and the United Arab Emirates.

Ms. Matic is a citizen of Austria and holds the degree of Magister der Philosophie, from the University of Vienna.


Fabiola de Freitas

Chief of Staff

Ms. Fabíola de Freitas assumed her duties as UNMIK Chief of Staff on 28 February 2013. She has extensive international experience including relevant practice in senior positions in political, management, strategic planning, administrative and advisory roles in several UN peace operations (Haiti, South Africa, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Timor-Leste, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Darfur and the Democratic Republic of the Congo).

She has also worked at the New York Office of the UN Centre for Human Rights; the UN Department of Political Affairs (Security Council Subsidiary Organs Branch) and the UN Department of Field Support. Prior to her service with the United Nations, Ms. de Freitas was with the Brazilian Foreign Service and served in Dakar (Senegal) and New York.
Ms. de Freitas holds a Master’s degree in Political Science/Latin American Studies from New York University, a Bachelor’s degree in International Relations from the University of Brasília, and a certificate in Environmental Management with specialization in International Environmental Policy from Tufts University (through a UN Environment Programme Fellowship). She speaks English and French and is a native Portuguese-speaker.


>>>>Former SRSG's