Lakhdar Brahimi

  • Special Adviser / Special Representative of the Secretary-General of the United Nations (1993-2014)

Former Foreign Minister and ambassador in his country, Lakhdar Brahimi has been a senior UN diplomat for up to 25 years. He mediated the end of the civil war in Lebanon on behalf of an Arab League Committee composed of the Kings of Morocco and Saudi Arabia and the President of Algeria. His last position was Joint Special Envoy of the United Nations and the League of Arab States for Syria.



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Afghanistan and Iraq: Failed States or Failed Wars?

Having assisted in the postwar transitions in Afghanistan and Iraq, Brahimi will speak about the circumstances that have led to the current situation in Afghanistan and Iraq. He will examine the recent history of both countries and offer his perspective on the actions and non-actions that have led t ...

Having assisted in the postwar transitions in Afghanistan and Iraq, Brahimi will speak about the circumstances that have led to the current situation in Afghanistan and Iraq. He will examine the recent history of both countries and offer his perspective on the actions and non-actions that have led to the present crisis.


Lakhdar Brahimi resigned in June 2014 from his most recent position as Joint Representative of the United Nations and the Arab League of States for Syria. A veteran United Nations envoy and advisor, Ambassador Lakhdar Brahimi has spent 45 years helping to keep the peace across the world. Since stepping down from his position as Under-Secretary-General and Special Adviser of the Secretary General of the United Nations, Mr. Brahimi lectures regularly in the US, Europe, Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Arab world, on international relations, conflict and conflict resolution.

Serving as Special Adviser to the Secretary-General from January 2004 to December 2005, Ambassador Brahimi advised the Secretary-General on a wide range of issues, including situations in the areas of conflict prevention and conflict resolution.

Having served previously as the Secretary-General's Special Envoy for Afghanistan from July 1997 through October 1999, Ambassador Brahimi led the UN mission to Afghanistan where he chaired the Bonn Conference after the events of September 11th, 2001. As Special Representative of the U.N. Secretary General for Afghanistan and Head of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (2001-2004), Ambassador Brahimi was entrusted with overall authority for the political, human rights, relief, recovery, and reconstruction activities of the United Nations in Afghanistan. After the completion of the Afghan constitution, in 2004, he traveled to Iraq as a Special Envoy of the Secretary General to help form an Interim Government.

In between his Afghanistan assignments, Mr. Brahimi served as Under-Secretary-General for Special Assignments in Support of the Secretary-General's Preventive and Peacemaking efforts. In this capacity, Mr. Brahimi chaired an independent panel, established by Secretary-General Kofi Annan, which authored “The Brahimi Report” on UN Peace Operations in 2000. Endorsed by the Millennium Summit, the acclaimed report assessed the shortcomings of the existing system of peacekeeping and made specific recommendations for change, focusing on politics, strategy and operational and organizational areas of need. Brahimi also later led the UN enquiry into the Al-Qaeda terror bombings in Algiers against the UN’s office in that country.

Prior to his first Afghanistan appointment, Mr. Brahimi served as Special Representative for Haiti (1994 -1996), and Special Representative for South Africa (1993-1994). During Lakhdar’s time at the UN, he was instrumental in the ending of Apartheid in South Africa. Leading the Observer Mission there during the historic 1994 election when Nelson Mandela became President was his proudest UN mission. It was this same year that he mediated a civil war between North and South Yemen, leading to that country’s reunification. Before that, Brahimi was sent as the UN Secretary General’s trouble-shooter conducting negotiations and solving flash-point crises in a number of hot-spots, including but not limited to: Zaire (now the Democratic Republic of Congo - negotiating the transition from Mobutu’s end of rule); resolving the Bakassi armed “Oil Conflict” on the Cameroon-Nigeria border; Liberia (Civil War Aid Workers’ Hostage Crisis); Ivory Coast (transition to Opposition-led Coalition Government); Burundi (averting an inverted repeat of the Rwanda scenario between Hutus & Tutsis); Nigeria; Angola; Sudan (for the Conflict in Darfur, notably); etc.

Mr. Brahimi was Minister for Foreign Affairs of Algeria from 1991 to 1993. He served as Rapporteur to the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (the Rio Earth Summit). 

From 1984 to 1991, Mr. Brahimi served as Deputy Secretary-General of the League of Arab States. Ambassador Brahimi first made history in 1989 when, as the Special Envoy of the Arab League Tripartite Committee (composed of H.M. King Fahd Bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud of Saudi Arabia, H.M. King Hassan II of Morocco and H.E. President Chadli Bendjedid of Algeria, in 1989-1991), he brokered the Taef Agreement which ended the 17 year long civil war in Lebanon. 

Mr. Brahimi was Diplomatic Adviser to the President of Algeria from 1982 to 1984, Ambassador to the United Kingdom from 1971 to 1979, and Ambassador to Egypt and the Sudan, as well as Permanent Representative to the Arab League in Cairo, from 1963 to 1970.

Lakhdar Brahimi began his peace-keeping career as a student, when he joined Algeria's independence struggle, and for five years he represented the National Liberation Front in Indonesia.

Brahimi is a member of “The Elders”, a group of elder statesmen and personalities formed in 2007 at the initiative of President Nelson Mandela.

A previous Director's Visitor at the Institute for Advanced Study (IAS) in Princeton (2006-2008), he was also a Visiting Lecturer to a number of Ivy League and leading European Universities: he was Senior Visiting Fellow at the LSE (London School of Economics) and taught a Conflict Resolution Seminar at “Sciences-Po” (Paris School of International Affairs, where he still lectures periodically). Ambassador Brahimi is a member of the Commission on Legal Empowerment of the Poor, the first global initiative to focus specifically on the link between exclusion, poverty and law. Brahimi is also a member of the Global Leadership Forum chaired by former South African President F. W. de Klerk. He is also currently an “Andrew D. White Professor-AtLarge” for Social Sciences at Cornell University.

Brahimi also chaired the International Task Force on Afghanistan, set-up by the Century Foundation (and co-chaired by Ambassador Thomas Pickering). He was also a member of the Board and Advisory Committees of a number of organizations, including The Center for Arab Contemporary Studies of the Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service of Georgetown University, the Carnegie Middle-East Center and the International Crisis Group.

Lakhdar Brahimi has also been awarded no less than four Honorary Doctorates: the American University of Beirut, Oxford University, the University of Nice and the University of Bologna. 

He was also awarded a number of awards and medals, including the Franklin D. Roosevelt Four Freedoms Award (for Freedom of Speech and Expression), the Georgetown University Raymond “Jit” Trainor Award for a Career of Dedicated Diplomatic Service, the Great Negotiator Award of Harvard Law School, the Stefan A. Riesenfeld Award (UC Berkeley and Berkeley Journal of International Law and Boalt School of Law), the Dag Hammarskjold Honorary Medal Award, the United Nations’ Correspondents’ Association (UNCA) Citizen of the World Award, the Defender of Democracy Award of the Parliamentarians for Global Action, the Khalil Gibran Spirit of Humanity Award of the Arab America Institute, the Lifetime Achievement Award of the ADC (American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee), the “Prix Spécial du Jury pour la Prévention des Conflits” (Jury Special Prize for Conflict Prevention) of the Chirac Foundation and the Middle East Institute’s Issam Fares Award for Excellence. Mr. Brahimi was educated in Algeria and France, specializing in law and political science, and is fluent in Arabic, English and French, and also speaks Indonesian.