Senior UN diplomat who acted as a bridge and barrier between the Israeli army and Hezbollah in Lebanon in the aftermath of the 2006 war
Michael Williams, Lord Williams of Baglan, who has died aged 67 after suffering from cancer, was a senior United Nations diplomat with a knack for turning the organisation’s principles into action on the ground, most successfully in the aftermath of the 2006 war between Israel and the Lebanese militia, Hezbollah. Williams’s work in Lebanon between 2006 and 2011 was the culmination of his role as an effective, if largely unsung, troubleshooter for the UN, in locations from Cambodia to the former Yugoslavia and the Middle East.
The six-week conflict had left large parts of Lebanon in ruins, but the Israelis felt they had failed to win a convincing victory. As for the Hezbollah fighters, they proclaimed themselves victors merely for surviving the Israeli onslaught. Inside Lebanon, the political situation was more than usually explosive following the 2005 assassination of the former prime minister Rafik Hariri, which the UN had promised to investigate.