United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on 19 August 2015 announced the appointment of H.E. Dr. Zahir Tanin as his Special Representative and Head of the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK). He succeeds Farid Zarif of Afghanistan, who completed his assignment in August 2015.
Until his new assignment, Ambassador Tanin was the Permanent Representative of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan at the United Nations from 2006 to 2015. During his tenure as Permanent Representative, Ambassador Tanin also served in a number of other capacities within the United Nations including as a Vice-President of the 63rd, 65th and 67th Sessions of the General Assembly on behalf of the Asian Group. Ambassador Tanin served as acting President several times including during High Level General Assembly Sessions. As Permanent Representative of Afghanistan, Ambassador Tanin participated in high level meetings and has delivered statements on behalf of the Government of Afghanistan in the Security Council, General Assembly, and other events and panels both within and outside the UN.
Ambassador Tanin was appointed Vice-Chair of the Open-ended Working Group and Chair of the Intergovernmental Negotiations (IGN) on Security Council Reform during the 63rd General Assembly in 2008. As Chair of the IGN, Ambassador Tanin presided over eight rounds of negotiations and produced a compilation text which is currently in its third revision. Ambassador Tanin was reappointed to chair the negotiations during the 64th, 65th, 66th, 67th and 68th sessions. In this capacity he spoke frequently at conferences around the world including in Brazil and Rome in 2009, but most recently at the Global Governance and Security Council Reform conference, also in Rome, and at the Doha Forum in May 2011.
On behalf of Afghanistan, Ambassador Tanin also served as a Vice Chair of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People since 2006, and has chaired or attended numerous meetings around the world in this capacity.
Before his appointment as Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Ambassador Tanin worked for eleven years with the BBC World Service as a Producer from 1995 to 2000, as a Senior Producer from 2000 to 2001, as an editor for BBC World Service, Afghanistan and Central Asia from 2001 to 2003 and as an Editor for Afghanistan of the BBC Persian/Pashto Section from 2003 to 2006.
Before joining the BBC, Ambassador Tanin was a research fellow in International Relations at the London School of Economic and Political Science (LSE) of the University of London for two years (from 1994).
Ambassador Tanin is a graduate of Kabul Medical University. He began his career in 1980 working as a journalist in Kabul. He was Editor-in-Chief of Akhbar-e-Haftah and Sabawoon Magazine until 1992 and served as the Vice President of the Journalist Union of Afghanistan from 1987-1992. He co-authored The Communist Regime in Afghanistan, a study of the political and social changes in Afghanistan from 1978 to 1992, which was published in Europe Asia Studies. He also authored Afghanistan in the Twentieth Century. His corresponding landmark 29-part program, The Oral History of Afghanistan in the 20th Century, was broadcast on the BBC.
Ambassador Tanin is married to Dr. Zarghoona Sediq Tanin and has two children.