Former Algerian freedom fighter, Foreign Minister, conflict mediator and UN diplomat; an expert in peacekeeping and post-conflict reconstruction.
"We’re extremely careful not to claim that we’re going to take a problem and solve it. What we’re saying is that from time to time, in certain situations, a problem needs a little push."
Work with The Elders
A respected and pragmatic negotiator, Lakhdar Brahimi has been a member of The Elders since the group was founded in 2007.
He travelled to Sudan with The Elders in October that year, drawing attention to the victims of violence in Darfur. He returned to Khartoum in May 2012 to meet President Omar al-Bashir, as part of a two-stage Elders visit to the region to encourage a return to dialogue between Sudan and South Sudan.
As part of The Elders’ work to promote Middle East peace, Mr Brahimi joined the most recent Elders’ delegation to the region, visiting Gaza, Egypt, Syria and Jordan in October 2010. In meetings with UN officials, civil society and political leaders, he repeated his call for an end to occupation and stressed the need to work towards a two-state solution.
Lakhdar Brahimi has visited Cyprus three times to promote peace between Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots. He features in The Elders’ documentary about the search for people who are still missing following the violence of the 1960s and 1970s – Cyprus: Digging the Past in Search of the Future – in which he discusses the difficulties of forgiveness with The Elders’ chair, Archbishop Tutu.
Algerian nationalist and diplomat
After Algeria’s war of independence broke out in 1954, Lakhdar Brahimi left his studies in Paris in 1956 to join his country’s liberation struggle. At the age of 22 he represented the National Liberation Front in Southeast Asia, a position he held for five years.
Following Algerian independence from France in 1962, Mr Brahimi held several diplomatic roles including Ambassador to the United Kingdom, Egypt and Sudan, and Permanent Representative to the Arab League in Cairo.
In 1989, as an Arab League Special Envoy, he brokered the Taif Agreement that brought Lebanon’s seventeen-year long civil war to an end. Between 1991 and 1993 he was Algerian Minister for Foreign Affairs.
Lakhdar Brahimi has worked to resolve conflict and build peace in some of the most troubled regions in the world. He led the United Nations Observer Mission during the 1994 democratic elections in South Africa that brought Nelson Mandela to power. He was sent to help end Yemen’s civil war in 1994, and served as Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General in Haiti until 1996. Mr Brahimi also served as UN Special Envoy to the Democratic Republic of Congo (then Zaïre), Sudan, Burundi, Liberia, Nigeria, Angola and Côte d’Ivoire.
As Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General and Head of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan from 2001 to 2004, he was responsible for overseeing all political, human rights, relief, recovery and reconstruction activities in the country. Mr Brahimi also served as the Secretary-General's Special Envoy for Afghanistan between 1997 and 1999.
In 2004 he served as UN Special Envoy in Iraq, and he is currently the Joint Special Representative of the UN and Arab League for Syria.
The Brahimi Report
In between his Afghanistan assignments, Lakhdar Brahimi chaired an independent panel established by UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan to review United Nations peacekeeping operations.
Known as the ‘Brahimi Report’, the panel’s findings were released in 2000 and assessed the shortcomings of the existing system of peacekeeping – criticising in particular the UN’s failure to respond to the atrocities in Rwanda in 1994 and Srebrenica, Bosnia and Herzegovina in 1995. The report made several recommendations for reform, including the need for clear, achievable mandates and the importance of better consultation and cooperation with countries contributing troops to peacekeeping missions.