Biographical Note

8 August 2003



NEW YORK, 7 August (UN Headquarters) -- The Secretary-General, in a letter dated 5 August, informed the Security Council of his intention to appoint Alvaro de Soto, of Peru, as his Special Representative for Western Sahara, at the rank of Under-Secretary-General.  He replaces William Swing of the United States, who has gone on to head the United Nations Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Mr. de Soto is in the twenty-second year of his career at the United Nations.  He has been the Secretary-General’s Special Adviser on Cyprus, with the rank of Under-Secretary-General, since 1999.

Before his Cyprus assignment, Mr. de Soto was Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs, responsible for the Americas, Europe, Asia and the Pacific (1995-1999).  In that capacity, he was the Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Myanmar (1997-1999).  He spent 13 years in the Secretary-General’s Office serving successively as Special Assistant, Executive Assistant and Senior Political Adviser to the Secretary-General.  He was in charge of communications for the Secretary-General in 1993-1994.  He headed the Office of Research and the Collection of Information as Assistant Secretary-General (1991).  As the Secretary-General’s Personal Representative for the Central American Peace Process, Mr. de Soto led the 1990-1991 negotiations that brought an end to the decade-long war in El Salvador.

Before joining the United Nations, Mr. de Soto served Peru as a career diplomat at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Lima, at United Nations Headquarters in New York (1968-1975) and in Geneva (1978-1982).  Mr. de Soto was the coordinator and spokesman for the "Group of 77" developing countries and China in deep seabed negotiations in the United Nations Law of the Sea Conference (1974‑1982).  He is an ambassador in the Peruvian diplomatic service on special leave.

Mr. de Soto studied humanities at the Catholic University of Peru, law at San Marcos University, diplomacy in the Diplomatic Academy of Peru, and at the Graduate Institute of International Studies in Geneva.  He holds an honorary doctorate of laws from Saint Joseph’s University, Philadelphia (1992).

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