Dutch woman to coordinate dismantling of Syria’s chemical weapons

Dutch woman Sigrid Kaag has been appointed special coordinator of the UN-OPCW mission in Syria charged with dismantling the country’s chemical weapons. UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon announced the appointment today.

‘This appointment comes at a special moment,’ says foreign minister Frans Timmermans. ‘The mission’s importance is underlined by the decision to award the Nobel Peace Prize to the OPCW. Sigrid Kaag’s appointment is consistent with the Netherlands’ commitment to this organisation, which has its headquarters in The Hague, and more generally with our opposition to weapons of mass destruction.’

Mr Timmermans has described Ms Kaag as the right person for the job. He actively backed her candidacy at the UN and the OPCW (Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons). She has considerable international experience, gained during a long career at the UN. She is currently serving as assistant secretary-general at the UN Development Programme and has held various positions at the UN children’s fund UNICEF. Ms Kaag knows the Arab region well, having worked in Jordan as UNICEF’s regional director. She started her career as a diplomat at the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Ms Kaag speaks six languages, including Arabic.

The OPCW is working closely with the UN on the biggest operation in its history: supervising the dismantlement of all chemical weapons in Syria. The Netherlands is contributing €1.5 million to the mission as well as providing personnel and logistical support.