GENEVA (SWI): Swiss army general Patrick Gauchat has taken command of the UN operation set up to monitor the ceasefire in the Middle East. This is the first time a Swiss leads a UN peacekeeping operation.
In October, UN Secretary-General António Guterres announced the appointment of Patrick Gauchat as Head of Mission and Chief of Staff of the United Nations Truce Supervision Organization (UNTSO). UNTSO is the oldest UN peacekeeping operation, launched in 1948 by the UN Security Council to monitor the ceasefire in the Middle East and supervise the implementation of the Israel-Arab Armistice Agreements.
UNTSO has gained in importance in the last few years with the conflict in Syria and rising tensions in the region. However, it’s role has changed somewhat over the years. Today UNTSO military observers are provided to support various missions in the region including in the Golan Heights and in Lebanon. UNTSO personnel are also deployed on short notice to establish other peacekeeping operations.
Gauchat told SRF that being Swiss has an advantage because the country doesn’t have a colonial past in the region and maintains good relations with all parties.
Before assuming his role in the Middle East in December, Gauchat was serving on the demilitarised zone on the border between North and South Korea. Gauchat has spent more than two decades working in peacekeeping including in the former Yugoslavia, the Middle East and Asia.
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