UN envoy to Libya criticized for accepting job with UAE, overshadowing peace talks
Bernardino Gross León reportedly negotiated the job while working as a special UN envoy to Libya. (AFP/File)
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The Emirates Diplomatic Academy has named Bernardino Gross León as its first director-general to lead the UAE’s centre of excellence in diplomatic studies.
Leon assumes the post in December, the academy announced on Wednesday.
A 25-year career diplomat, Leon most recently served as Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General to Libya.
According to a report from British newspaper The Guardian, however, Leon negotiated the role while working as the United Nations special representative in Libya, despite the UAE backing one side of the peace talks in the war-ravaged coutnry, calling into question if there was a conflict of interest.
Shaikh Abdullah Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, UAE Minister of Foreign Affairs and Chairman of the Board of Trustees of EDA, said: “The Emirates Diplomatic Academy serves the important role of providing world-class training, research and intellectual leadership for our future diplomats. The deep experience and understanding of global geopolitics that León brings to EDA will be a rich resource for our new generation of diplomats.
“The UAE’s diplomatic corps are the pillars of our international engagement, upholding our interests and promoting our leadership’s vision at global platforms. Developing the next generation of Emirati diplomatic talents is central to supporting our foreign policy objectives and in ensuring that our nation’s voice is heard as we pursue our outlook of promoting regional peace and stability.”
According to a statement issued by the academy on Wednesday, Leon is a Spanish national and has worked in politics, diplomacy and foreign affairs in the Middle East, the European Union and followed up and supported the Taba talks as well as the Hebron, Wye River, Camp David and Shepherdstown Accords.
He was actively involved in the Geneva Agreement, and has served in Spanish Diplomatic Services at the recently created European External Action Service in the United Nations and other international centres. He has worked widely in political and economic affairs, especially as a G20 Sherpa, and has contributed significantly to cultural diplomacy.
As director general, León will work with EDA’s Board of Trustees to establish the strategic direction of the academy as a global thought leader in diplomatic studies. He will lead the international faculty of experts at EDA in ensuring the highest standards in diplomatic education and competency to create the new generation of Emirati diplomats that the academy nurtures. The appointment will also help enhance EDA’s status as an elite diplomatic institution that provides vital policy direction and insights on contemporary regional and global issues.
Editor's note: This article has been edited from the source material
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