Russian diplomat to become new UN counterterror chief

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The United Nations on Wednesday announced the appointment of its first counterterrorism chief, Russian diplomat Vladimir Voronkov.

The new high-level position was created by UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to strengthen counterterrorism efforts that had been dispersed among several UN agencies and departments.


“I do believe that we have a problem of coordination of the 38 entities that within the UN deal with counterterrorism, so it makes full sense to have a dedicated office with a responsible (person),” Guterres told a news conference on Tuesday.

Voronkov is Russia’s representative to UN international organizations in Vienna, a position he has held since 2011. He also serves on the board of governors of the UN’s global nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency.

The appointment will raise Russia’s profile in international counterterrorism and at the United Nations, where Voronkov will hold the title of under-secretary-general.

Voronkov “will provide strategic leadership to United Nations counterterrorism efforts, participate in the decision-making process of the United Nations and ensure that the cross-cutting origins and impact of terrorism are reflected in the work of the United Nations,” said UN spokesman Farhan Haq in announcing the appointment.

Born in 1953, Voronkov served as Russian deputy ambassador to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) between 2005 and 2008.

He was also posted to the Russian embassy in Poland and was director of the department of European cooperation at the Russian foreign ministry in Moscow, where he began his career in 1989.

A graduate of Moscow State University, Voronkov is fluent in English and Polish.

The UN General Assembly last week approved the creation of the new UN office of counterterrorism.

“The secretary-general considers counterterrorism and prevention of violent extremism to be one of the highest priorities of the United Nations to address a growing threat to international peace and security,” UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said after the assembly’s approval.

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