Ambassador Hesham Youssef was a career diplomat with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Egypt. From 2014-2019, he served as Assistant Secretary General for Humanitarian, Cultural and Social Affairs of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) and completed his term in July 2019. From 2001-2014, he served as a senior official in the Arab League, as Official Spokesman and later the Chief of Staff to Secretary General Amr Moussa from 2003- 2011. From 2012-2014, Ambassador Youssef was a Senior Advisor to the Secretary General of the Arab League, Dr. Nabil Elaraby, on issues pertaining to crisis management as well as the reform of the Arab League.

Ambassador Youssef has worked extensively on conflict resolution in the Middle East and in particular the Arab Israeli conflict, reconciliation in Iraq and the situation in Sudan. He has written several papers on reform in the Arab world and focused in the last five years on fragility and the humanitarian situation in the Islamic world, in particular in Somalia, the Palestinian Territories, Chad, Niger and Myanmar.

Ambassador Youssef joined the Egyptian Foreign Ministry in 1985. He was posted to the Egyptian Embassy in Canada (1988-1992) and the Egyptian Mission in Geneva where he focused on economic and trade issues in the United Nations and the World Trade Organization (1995-1999). He was a member of the Cabinet of the Egyptian Minister for Foreign Affairs in the periods 1992-1995 and 1999-2001.

Ambassador Youssef graduated with a bachelor’s degree in physics from the Faculty of Science, Cairo University, in 1980. From 1980-83, he taught at Cairo University, the American University in Cairo, and Lehigh University in Pennsylvania. He holds master’s degrees from St. John’s College (New Mexico) and the American University in Cairo.

Publications By Hesham

Can the ‘New Normalizers’ Advance Israeli-Palestinian Peace?

Can the ‘New Normalizers’ Advance Israeli-Palestinian Peace?

Wednesday, June 16, 2021

By: Ambassador Hesham Youssef

The recent outbreak of Israeli-Palestinian violence raised renewed discussion on how Arab states that inked normalization agreements with Israel in 2020 can advance peace between Israelis and Palestinians. The “new normalizers” (UAE, Bahrain, Sudan and Morocco) may be weighing the pros and cons of heavily involving themselves in efforts to resolve this protracted conflict but should not dismiss the opportunity. They can and should play a more proactive and constructive role, which would enhance regional stability and prosperity and advance the normalizers’ own interests. It will be up to the international community, the Palestinians and regional stakeholders to bring them into the peacemaking fold.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Peace Processes

10 Things to Know: Biden’s Approach to the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

10 Things to Know: Biden’s Approach to the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

Thursday, June 10, 2021

By: Ambassador Hesham Youssef

Coming into office, the Biden administration was clear that the Middle East would largely take a backseat in its foreign policy agenda. But recent developments in Jerusalem and the 11-day war on Gaza forced the Israeli-Palestinian conflict back into the forefront of international attention and revealed elements of the administration’s approach to the conflict. U.S. policy on the conflict has long been a point of bipartisan harmony, with more consensus than contention. The Biden administration’s emerging policy largely aligns with past administrations’ policies, with a few notable differences. But can this approach advance peace amid this protracted conflict?

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Peace Processes

The Israeli-Palestinian Conflict Amid a New Reality and a New Region

The Israeli-Palestinian Conflict Amid a New Reality and a New Region

Wednesday, May 26, 2021

By: Ambassador Hesham Youssef

Thirty years ago, the Madrid Middle East Peace Conference aimed to resolve the Arab-Israeli conflict and initiated what we now think of as the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. Three decades later, the world and the region have undergone tectonic changes, bearing little resemblance to 1991 when the Cold War came to a close. Yet, Israeli and Palestinian leaders are still dealing with their conflict as if it is business as usual. The time has come for them to take a more sober look at the global and regional trends that spell trouble for them and their peoples. Without such a reorientation from leadership on both sides, it is likely that there will be continued and escalating rounds of violence like what we witnessed this past month.  

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Peace Processes

10 Steps Washington Can Take After the De-escalation of the War on Gaza

10 Steps Washington Can Take After the De-escalation of the War on Gaza

Tuesday, May 18, 2021

By: Ambassador Hesham Youssef

In a call with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu yesterday, President Biden said he was supportive of a cease-fire amid the continued violence in Israel and the Palestinian territories. As ongoing Hamas rocket barrages and Israeli airstrikes add to the rising death toll, there are immediate, short-term measures needed to stave off more violence. But, a cessation of the current hostilities will not address the long-term issues that have prevented a resolution to the decades-long conflict. How can Washington break through the long-standing status quo that has stymied efforts to forge a peaceful settlement?

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Conflict Analysis & Prevention; Peace Processes

Iran Nuclear Talks Open a Window for Broader Middle East Security

Iran Nuclear Talks Open a Window for Broader Middle East Security

Thursday, April 29, 2021

By: Ambassador Hesham Youssef

Since the end of World War II, there have been several attempts that ultimately failed to establish a regional security framework in the Middle East. These attempts have historically fallen short, undermined by distrust, power politics and conflict. Today, a new window of opportunity may be emerging to establish a stable, broadly accepted mechanism for deescalating conflicts, setting norms and building confidence and cooperation between states in the region. World powers should consider the ongoing Vienna talks — aimed at reviving the Iran nuclear deal that the Trump administration withdrew from — the first step in this direction. 

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Conflict Analysis & Prevention; Mediation, Negotiation & Dialogue

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