Learn more

de Soto

Senior Mediation Advisor

Álvaro de Soto is a Peruvian diplomat and renowned international mediator. He served as UN Under Secretary-General from 1999-2007, during which time he led the negotiations which brought an end to the war in El Salvador. He also served as the political advisor to Boutros Boutros-Ghali, Special Envoy for Myanmar, the Special Advisor on Cyprus, and the Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process.

Mr de Soto was a member of the Peruvian delegation to the third UN Conference on the Law of the Sea from its earliest preparatory stages, and was the coordinator of the Group of 77 in negotiations on the deep seabed and overall Chairman of the Group at the final session of the Conference at which the Convention was adopted in 1982.
Mr. de Soto became involved in the efforts in 1982 by the office of Mr Perez de Cuellar to defuse the South Atlantic crisis over the Falklands/Malvinas islands.  He also assisted, as Mr. Perez de Cuellar's personal representative for the Central American peace process, in securing the successful conclusion of the 1991-1992 peace accords which brought to an end the decade-long war in El Salvador. This broke new ground for the UN as the Cold War drew to an end.

Alvaro de Soto participated in Mr. Boutros Ghali's efforts concerning the former Yugoslavia, Haiti and Somalia in 1992-1994 and, from 1995 to 1999 he was first Mr. Boutros Ghali's, then Mr. Kofi Annan's Special Envoy for Myanmar, and represented Mr. Boutros Ghali in consultations between Indonesia and Portugal concerning East Timor. He led the 1999-2004 negotiations on Cyprus that ended with the referendums on a reunification plan mainly drafted by the UN. This ran parallel to the EU enlargement process in which the Greek Cypriot-led Republic of Cyprus was a candidate. His team drafted the comprehensive proposal for a settlement which could have led to a unified Cyprus joining the EU, which was approved by the Turkish Cypriots but rejected by the Greek Cypriots in separate, simultaneous referendums in April 2004.

From 2003 to 2005 Alvaro do Soto was Mr. Annan's Special Representative for Western Sahara, and his final assignment, from 2005 to 2007, was as UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, a period which encompassed Israel's withdrawal from Gaza and parts of the northern West Bank, the end of the government of Ariel Sharon, the January 2006 election of Hamas and the ensuing policy of isolation by the U.S., the EU and Israel. Mr de Soto was Mr Annan's Envoy to the Quartet.

Since leaving public service, Mr. de Soto has written and published a number of articles and book chapters. He has lectured widely in the U.S., Europe, Latin America, Asia and the Middle East. He is a Senior Fellow at the Ralph Bunche Institute and an Associate Fellow at the Geneva Centre for Security Policy. He hosts “Conversations with Alvaro de Soto,” a series of public interviews with senior mediators and negotiators at Columbia University.

Mr. de Soto also serves as: Senior Fellow at the Ralph Bunche Institute; Visiting Professor, Sciences Po, Paris; Board Member of Building Markets; Member of the Advisory Board of the Dialogue Advisory Group; Member of Advisory Board of  the Conflict Prevention and Peace Forum; and, a Member of the Advisory Board of  the Center for International Conflict Resolution.

Selected Publications, Reports and Lectures

Diplomacy and mediation, forthcoming in Handbook of Global Security Policy, Wiley-Blackwell Handsbooks of Global Policy Series, Ed/ Mary Kaldor and Iavor Rangelov

Harnessing incentives for peace, An interview with Alvaro de Soto

The role of the United Nations in the Middle East, Italianieuropei in July 2009

mediators views from here: vision, strategy and other elements of peacemaking, Oslo Forum, 2007

Ending Violence Conflict in El Salvador, in 'Herding Cats, Multi-Party Mediation in A Complex World', Ed. Chester A. Crocker, Fen Osler Hampson, Pamela Aall, 1999

Obstacles to peacebuilding, co-authored with Graciana del Castillo, Foreign Policy, Number 94, Spring 1994

Thematic specialisations

International mediation, diplomacy, peace/justice intersection, post-conflict peace-building, dealing with proscribed groups.

Regional specialisations



English, Spanish, French