Algerian diplomat Lakhdar Brahimi has a distinguished history in the politics of what has long been known as the “Third World,” most of which were once beleaguered colonies of Europe. After the Asian-African Conference in Bandung, Indonesia, in 1955—the first coming together of the non-aligned movement—Lakhdar was sent to Indonesia by the National Liberation Front of Algeria to open its first office in Asia.
Over the years, Lakhdar met and chatted with everyone: from Che to Nyerere to Nasser to Nehru to Sukarno. He served Algeria as ambassador and foreign minister. He was under-secretary-general of the League of Arab States. Most recently, at the United Nations, he undertook special missions on behalf of the secretary-general in Congo, Yemen, Liberia, Nigeria, and Sudan.
His last post for the United Nations was in Afghanistan, where he led the United Nations Peace Conference on Afghanistan in Bonn at the end of 2001, and then served in Kabul as the special representative of the secretary-general until 2004. Lakhdar is presently at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton as a guest of the director. We talked at the Institute about past and present trends in the poorer countries of the world.