The United Nations-Arab League joint special envoy to Syria, Kofi Annan, is stepping down, the UN announced Thursday.
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said in a statement that Annan had decided not to renew his mandate, which expires on Aug. 31.
“Kofi Annan deserves our profound admiration for the selfless way in which he has put his formidable skills and prestige to this most difficult and potentially thankless of assignments,” he said.
Annan’s departure comes in the face of an armed rebellion against President Bashar al-Assad whose violence shows no sign of abating after 17 months of strife.
Annan’s term has also been plagued by deep divisions within the international community over how to resolve the issue. China and Russia have vetoed three council resolutions intended to ratchet up the pressure on Assad to stop his attacks on civilians and halt the fighting, which has escalated into a full-scale civil war.
Speaking to reporters in Geneva, Annan cited “finger-pointing and name-calling” in the 15-nation Security Council as one of the reasons for his decision to step down.