London, Asharq Al-Awsat – Nasser al-Kidwa has been appointed as deputy to Kofi Annan, the joint UN-Arab League special envoy to Syria. For the first time since being entrusted with the post last month, Annan will visit Damascus on 10 March in an effort to promote a political solution to the Syrian crisis, with al-Kidwa expected to accompany him.
Nasser al-Kidwa is the former Minister of Foreign Affairs for the Palestinian National Authority, and nephew of the late Palestinian President Yasser Arafat. He currently serves as Chairman for the Yasser Arafat Foundation and is a member of the Central Committee of Fatah.
Al-Kidwa possesses extensive political and diplomatic experience accumulated over a period of 36 years, becoming involved in political and diplomatic work at a young age. He joined Fatah in 1969 whilst still a student, eventually graduating from Cairo University in the field of dentistry a decade later. By this time, al-Kidwa had been elected to the Palestinian National Council (in 1975). In the same year as his graduation, he enrolled in the Palestine Red Crescent. As his political career progressed, Nasser al-Kidwa rose up the rankings of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) and was inducted as a full member of Fatah in 1989. In 1991 he was appointed as the Permanent Observer for Palestine to the United Nations, a position which he held until 2005. As a result of this role, al-Kidwa participated in many regional and international conferences, where he became acquainted with the then UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan.
Al-Kidwa was behind the diplomatic campaign lodged in the UN against the separation barrier that the Israeli government continues to construct on Palestinian territory in the occupied West Bank. Al-Kidwa’s relentless efforts culminated in the UN General Assembly resolution on 8 December 2003, opting to resort to the International Court of Justice in The Hague, Netherlands, to request its non-binding advisory opinion on the legality of the Israeli West Bank barrier. After deliberations lasting nearly four and a half months, 14 out of the Court’s 15 judges reached a decision confirming the illegality of the barrier, furthermore recommending its demolition and compensation for the Palestinians affected by it. Nabil el-Araby, the current Secretary General of the Arab League, was one of the 14 judges.