Peter Thomson (diplomat)

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H.E.
Peter Thomson
Permanent Representative to the United Nations for the Fiji Islands Flag of Fiji.svg
Incumbent
Assumed office
February 2010
Preceded by Berenado Vunibobo

Peter Thomson, born in Suva in 1948,[1] is a Fijian diplomat and Fiji's current Permanent Representative to the United Nations.[2]

He presided over Fiji's election to the 2013 Chair of the Group of 77 and China - the UN's largest negotiating group with 133 Member States. For the year 2014, he was elected President of the Executive Board of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and the United Nations Office of Project Services (UNOPS). He was the architect of the name-change of the UN's Group of Asian States to the new name of the Asia-Pacific Group, effective 2011.

Family[edit]

Thomson, a fifth generation Fijian, was born to British colonial administrator Sir Ian Thomson and his wife Lady Nancy Thomson.[3][4][5] His father was born in Scotland, and his mother was a fourth generation Fijian of Scottish descent.[6][7] He married publisher Marijcke Thomson in Fiji in 1973. They have two children, James and Nicola, and have three granddaughters.

Education[edit]

Educated at Suva Grammar School and Natabua High School, he finished schooling at the International Centre, Sevenoaks School, England in 1967. He later obtained a B.A. in political studies at Auckland University and a postgraduate diploma in development studies at Cambridge University.[8]

Civil service[edit]

Duties[edit]

Thomson began work as a Fiji civil servant in 1972, working in rural development as District Officer in Navua, Macuata and Taveuni. In 1978 he was posted to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. He was seconded in 1979 to the Forum Secretariat, before being posted to Japan in 1980 as a chargé d'affaires, entrusted with the task of establishing Fiji's embassy in Tokyo. He served in Tokyo until 1984, when he was appointed Consul General in Sydney, Australia. Returning to Fiji in 1986, he served as Permanent Secretary of Information, and was a member of the boards of the Fiji Visitors Bureau, Fiji TV and the Fiji Broadcasting Commission. He also co-founded the executive committees of the Australia-Fiji Business Council and the New Zealand-Fiji Business Council.[9] He was elected to honorary membership of the New Zealand-Fiji Business Council in September 2007.

In 1987, he served at Fiji Government House as Permanent Secretary to Governor-General Ratu Sir Penaia Ganilau.[10][11] During this time between the two coups d'État of 1987, the Governor-General was the sole executive authority of Fiji.

Gaoling[edit]

After the 1987 coup d'État, he "found himself a target as the high-profile white permanent secretary to Fiji's governor-general, embroiled in a constitutional crisis and with indigenous supremacists demanding his head". He was gaoled by the Fiji Army for four days,[12] and emigrated to New Zealand, then Australia.[13]

Varied experience[edit]

From 1988 onwards, he worked as an investment and management consultant on Pacific Island affairs for various government agencies, regional organisations, universities and investment corporations.[14] In 1990, the East-West Center published his diagnostic study "Trade and Investment in the Pacific Islands."[15] His New Zealand-registered company, Thomson Pacific, managed Mitsubishi Trust Bank's real estate assets in Auckland. During this time he was a founding director and shareholder of Tabua Investments Ltd, one of the prime developers of Fiji's premier tourism resort Denarau Island Resort, and was a principal in the construction of the Sheraton Villas project at Denarau.[citation needed]

Citizenship[edit]

Having lost his Fiji citizenship by becoming an Australian and a New Zealander after the 1987 military coup, he regained his original citizenship in 2009, following a Fiji government decree authorising dual citizenship.[16][17]

United Nations[edit]

He resumed diplomatic duties for Fiji in 2010, when he was appointed Fiji's Permanent Representative to the United Nations.[18][19] He took up the post in a context where Fiji's long-standing tradition of providing peace-keeping forces to the United Nations was facing opposition from New Zealand and Australia due to the 2006 military coup in Fiji. A few months before his appointment, Thomson had publicly criticised what he described as Australia's "ongoing campaign in New York to choke off Fiji’s role as an international peacekeeper".[20][21] In 2011, the United Nations requested Fiji to increase its deployment of peacekeepers in Iraq.[22] In 2013, a battalion of Fijian peacekeepers was deployed to UNDOF (Golan Heights, Syria).

As Fiji's Representative to the United Nations, he has worked to establish diplomatic relations with new countries (he has formalized Fiji's diplomatic relations with over sixty nations during the last four years), and consolidate Fiji's existing relations with a broad range of countries. He has been described as "spearheading vital elements of Fiji's Look North policy, pursuing closer ties with China, India and the Arab world -- among others -- as a means of breaking free of its dependence on Australia and New Zealand".[23] Graham Davis writes that Thomson has "forged a new network of international relationships for Fiji outside the [Australia/New Zealand] orbit, including membership of the Non-Aligned Movement", and that he has been a prime mover in developing the UN influence of the Pacific Small Island Developing States. ddv.[24]

In August 2011, he was elected as one of twenty-one vice-presidents for the 66th session of the United Nations General Assembly, under session president Nassir Al-Nasser of Qatar.[25] In July 2011, Peter Thomson was elected as President of the Assembly of the International Seabed Authority's 17th Session.[26]

In July 2010, he told The Australian’s Graham Davis: "I'm a passionate advocate of a multi-racial, multicultural Fiji so I fully support Prime Minister Bainimarama's programme. Race-based constitutions and political parties have been very divisive for the nation. We're now working towards a future in which citizens will vote without regard for race for the first time."[27]

In January 2014, he was elected president of the executive board of the United Nations Development Programme, United Nations Population Fund and the United Nations Office for Project Services.[28]

Bibliography[edit]

Thomson is the author of Kava in the Blood, his account of the 1987 Fiji coups d'État. The book was the winner of New Zealand's E.H.McCormick Prize for non-fiction in 2000.[29] He is the editor and publisher of the pictorial/historical book Fiji in the Forties and Fifties, written by his father, with photographs by Rob Wright.[30]

References[edit]

  1. ^ ""Thomson appointed Permanent Rep to the United Nations"". Fiji government website. 5 February 2010. 
  2. ^ "LE NOUVEAU REPRÉSENTANT PERMANENT DE FIDJI AUPRÈS DES NATIONS UNIES PRÉSENTE SES LETTRES DE CRÉANCE", United Nations press release, 4 March 2010
  3. ^ "Thomson appointed Permanent Rep to the United Nations", 5 February 2010, Fiji government website
  4. ^ "Sir Ian Thomson dies in Scotland", Fiji Times, 15 March 2008
  5. ^ "Sir Ian Thomson" (obituary), The Times, 4 April 2008
  6. ^ "In memory of the Thomsons", Fiji Times, 23 December 2008
  7. ^ "The folly of Canberra’s stand against Fiji", Peter Thomson, Scoop.co.nz, 17 September 2009
  8. ^ "Thomson appointed Permanent Rep to the United Nations", 5 February 2010, Fiji government website
  9. ^ "Thomson appointed Permanent Rep to the United Nations", 5 February 2010, Fiji government website
  10. ^ "Thomson appointed Permanent Rep to the United Nations", 5 February 2010, Fiji government website
  11. ^ "Fiji Appoints Envoy To UN", All Headline News, 9 February 2010
  12. ^ Thomson, Peter. (2000). Kava in the Blood. Charleston, SC: Tandem Press.
  13. ^ "At the court of King Frank", Graham Davis, The Australian, 22 July 2010
  14. ^ "Thomson appointed Permanent Rep to the United Nations", 5 February 2010, Fiji government website
  15. ^ Peter William Thomson, "Expanding trade and investment in the Pacific Islands", plenary address to the Third Pacific Islands Conference of Leaders (9–11 April 1990), published by East-West Center, 1990, 16pp
  16. ^ "The folly of Canberra’s stand against Fiji", Peter Thomson, Scoop.co.nz, 17 September 2009
  17. ^ "At the court of King Frank", Graham Davis, The Australian, 22 July 2010
  18. ^ "Thomson appointed Permanent Rep to the United Nations", 5 February 2010, Fiji government website
  19. ^ "Fiji Appoints Envoy To UN", All Headline News, 9 February 2010
  20. ^ "The folly of Canberra’s stand against Fiji", Peter Thomson, Scoop.co.nz, 17 September 2009
  21. ^ "Australia attacked over anti Fiji policy", ABC Radio Australia, 14 September 2009
  22. ^ "Fiji soldier prepare for Iraq deployment"
  23. ^ "At the court of King Frank", Graham Davis, The Australian, 22 July 2010
  24. ^ "Regime leader Bainimarama wins last laugh over Canberra in Pacific politics", Scoop.co.nz, 29 March 2011
  25. ^ "Fiji elected Vice president of UN General Assembly", Pacific Islands News Association, 5 August 2011
  26. ^ "Peter Thomson (Fiji) President of Seabed Assembly for 2011"
  27. ^ "At the court of King Frank", Graham Davis, The Australian, 22 July 2010
  28. ^ "Historic appointment", Fiji Times, 10 January 2014
  29. ^ New Zealand Post Books Awards[dead link]
  30. ^ Sir Ian Thomson & Rob Wright, Fiji in the forties and fifties, Thomson Pacific, 1994, ISBN 0-473-02740-2

External links[edit]