UN Lecture Reflects on Peace Processes in the Middle East


The Beacon/Sean Schmoyer

Mocibob discusses his time in Iraq, how under Saddam Hussein, “You could touch fear” and the lack of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.

The United Nations lecture series at Wilkes University brought its first guest speaker in on Nov. 5 to speak to students and faculty about the peace process in the Middle East.

Darko Mocibob, deputy director of the Middle East Division in the Department of Political/Peacebuilding Affairs and Peace Operations (DPPA-DPO), presented his lecture titled, “The United Nations and the Middle East Peace Process.”

Mocibob has served as the DPPA-DPO since 2014 and was previously Chief of Office in the Office of Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs in the U.N. Department of Political Affairs.

Mocibob was born in Bosnia and after graduating and teaching as a professor at the University of Sarajevo Medical School he served as a Media Analyst to the NATO Implementation Force (IFOR) and Interpreter to the Force Commander for the UN Protection Force in Bosnia (UNPROFOR) from 1993 to 1997.

As the Deputy Director of the Middle East Division, Mocibob’s department oversees the region defined from the border of Gaza with Egypt to the border of Iran with Afghanistan.

After discussing the structure of the UN and the different departments within it, Mocibob discussed how his department works in the Middle East.

“We provide support for different field presence, three different ones. We have countries when we have peacekeeping operations that see UN troops with blue helmets. We have operations that have special political missions, they have UN personnel but they do not have armed UN personal, and we have countries like Jordan, that have no missions but have a presence in different forms,” Mocibob said.

Mocibob discussed his transition from teaching at a medical school to joining the UN.

“The most interesting topic addressed was his background in medicine,” Jennifer Boch, sophomore history and international relations major, said. “He said that he is always asked why a doctor is in this line of work and answered because the world is full of sick people. He explained how he originally started as just a translator but worked with very high up officials who got him further involved.”

Mocibob also elaborated on how his experience as a medical professional assists him in his position at the UN.

“In several ways, what the medical school teaches you is to look and analyze what you see,” he said. “It is about a human being and a human body, it is not about political organizations. I have learned to look for the signs and symptoms of trouble before they become a full-fledged conflict or disease.”

Mocibob continued explaining the importance of prevention in politics. “If you are able to recognize the symptoms of the emerging conflict, it is much easier to try to capture and treat symptoms early on. It is much cheaper, in blood and treasure, and it is much faster than dealing with a conflict that is already started.”

He described the Middle East as a mess and stated that the modern history of conflict in the Middle East saw its beginning due to the aftermath of World War I when Britain supported the creation of Palestine.

Today the conflict at hand is the dispute between Israel and Palestine. Though Mocibob stated the issue is “on the back-burner” for now, he stated that the UN still advocates for a two-state solution and that the problem is still important as it can “come back with a vengeance.”

During the Q&A, students and faculty asked about various topics including Mocibob’s thoughts on growing cyber threats, how successful he felt operations in Iran were, his thoughts on terminology such as the Arab Spring and how his office has mediated the conflict in Syria and Kurdistan.

Mocibob described the conflict as being one of great difficulty. “The problem in Syria is that there are too many cooks in a rather small kitchen. We had some success, just last week we managed to get the Assyrian parties, the pro-government and anti-government to Genova to a first meeting of the constitutional committee.”

“It took a long time to get to this part, and the situation in North-East Syria actually threatened it. The U.S. got out of the way and Russia moved in… Russia brokered the deal under which the Kurds would move their forces 30 kilometers from the Turkish border and a safe zone will be established.” Mocibob said.

He also addressed that the “safe zone” established does not fit the situation that has been set up, and that Turkey plans to move one to two million refugees into the “safe zone.” The UN is getting more involved in the movement of the refugees to make sure that they return to where they need to.

According to Mocibob, the UN has many hopes for the constitutional committee. One hope is that it will lead to Syrian negotiated solutions, which will result in foreign forces leaving the country as well as a new Syrian government to be agreed upon.