Peter Thomson (diplomat)

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His Excellency
Peter Thomson
OF
Peter Thomson.jpg
President of the United Nations General Assembly
Assumed office
13 September 2016
Preceded by Mogens Lykketoft
Permanent Representative of Fiji to the United Nations
Assumed office
4 March 2010
Preceded by Berenado Vunibobo
Personal details
Born 1948 (age 68–69)
Suva, Fiji
Spouse(s) Marijcke
Children 2
Alma mater Natabua High School
Occupation Diplomat

Peter Thomson, OF (born 1948 in Suva),[1] is a Fijian diplomat and currently serves as President of the General Assembly of the United Nations. He previously served as Fiji's Permanent Representative to the United Nations since February 2010.[2]

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 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. 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.[citation needed] In 2014 the President of Fiji conferred on Peter Thomson the award of Officer of the Order of Fiji.[3]

Family[edit]

Thomson, a fifth generation Fijian, was born to British colonial administrator Sir Ian Thomson (Colonial Secretary in the 1960s and later as Governor of the British Virgin Islands) and his wife Lady Nancy Thomson.[4][5][6][7] He married publisher Marijcke Thomson in Fiji in 1973. They have two children, James and Nicola, and 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 BA in political studies at Auckland University and a postgraduate diploma in development studies at Wolfson College, Cambridge.[8]

Civil service[edit]

Duties[edit]

Thomson began work as a Fiji civil servant in 1972, working in rural development and local government as District Officer in the districts of Navua, Macuata and Taveuni. In 1978 he was posted to Fiji's Ministry of Foreign Affairs. He was seconded in 1979 to the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat, before being posted to Japan in 1980 as Chargé d'Affaires, entrusted with the task of establishing Fiji's Embassy in Tokyo. He served in Tokyo until 1984, when he was appointed Fiji's Consul General in Sydney, Australia. Returning to Fiji in 1986, he served as the Government's Permanent Secretary of Information, and was a member of the boards of the Fiji Visitors Bureau, Fiji TV and the Fiji Broadcasting Commission.

In 1987, he served at Fiji's Government House as Permanent Secretary to Governor-General Ratu Sir Penaia Ganilau.[9][10] During this time between the two coups d'état of 1987, the Governor-General was the sole executive authority of Fiji. After the September 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". As a result, he was gaoled by the Fiji Army for four days,[11] and subsequently emigrated to New Zealand, then Australia.[12]

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.[13] In 1990, the East-West Center published his diagnostic study "Trade and Investment in the Pacific Islands."[14] 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. He was a founder member of the executive committees of the Australia-Fiji Business Council and the New Zealand-Fiji Business Council,[15] and was elected to honorary membership of the New Zealand-Fiji Business Council in September 2007.[citation needed]

Citizenship[edit]

Having lost his Fiji citizenship by becoming an Australian and a New Zealand citizen 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 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, Syria).

As Fiji's Representative to the United Nations, he has worked to consolidate diplomatic relations as widely as possible (during his time at the United Nations, Fiji has formalized diplomatic relations with over eighty nations). He has been described as "spearheading vital elements of Fiji's Look North policy, pursuing closer ties with China, India and the Arab world.[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]

Thomson was instrumental in the name change of the United Nations regional group, from "Asian Group" to "Asia-Pacific Group", in September 2011.

In August 2011, he was elected as one of the Vice-Presidents for the 66th session of the United Nations General Assembly.[25] In July 2011, Peter Thomson was elected as President of the Assembly of the International Seabed Authority's 17th Session in Jamaica.[26]

In 2012, he successfully led the campaign to have Fiji elected as Chair of the Group of 77 and China, the UN's largest negotiating bloc, and served in that capacity at the United Nations throughout 2013.

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 with oversight responsibilities of over US$7billion of UN annual funding.[27]

President[edit]

On June 13 2016 Peter Thomson was elected President of the United Nations General Assembly, the first from the Pacific Islands region.[28] He serves in that capacity from September 2016 to September 2017.

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] and is the author of Wild Vanilla.

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. ^ "President honours Order of Fiji awards recipients", Fiji Times, 25 November 2014
  4. ^ "Thomson appointed Permanent Rep to the United Nations", 5 February 2010, Fiji government website
  5. ^ "Sir Ian Thomson dies in Scotland", Fiji Times, 15 March 2008
  6. ^ "Sir Ian Thomson" (obituary), The Times, 4 April 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. ^ "Fiji Appoints Envoy To UN", All Headline News, 9 February 2010
  11. ^ Thomson, Peter. (2000). Kava in the Blood. Charleston, SC: Tandem Press.
  12. ^ "At the court of King Frank", Graham Davis, The Australian, 22 July 2010
  13. ^ "Thomson appointed Permanent Rep to the United Nations", 5 February 2010, Fiji government website
  14. ^ 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
  15. ^ "Thomson appointed Permanent Rep to the United Nations", 5 February 2010, Fiji government website
  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. ^ "Historic appointment", Fiji Times, 10 January 2014
  28. ^ Fijian diplomat elected president of U.N. General Assembly, Reuters, 13 June 2016
  29. ^ New Zealand Post Books Awards Archived 11 September 2011 at the Wayback Machine.
  30. ^ Sir Ian Thomson & Rob Wright, Fiji in the forties and fifties, Thomson Pacific, 1994, ISBN 0-473-02740-2

External links[edit]