14 September 1999

Press Release


Biographical Note

Penny Wensley, who was elected Chairman of the Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) today, has been Permanent Representative of Australia to the United Nations at New York Headquarters since September 1997.

Prior to her current appointment, Ms. Wensley, a career diplomat since 1968, was head of the North Asia Division in the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and Australia’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations in Geneva (1993-1995) where she also served as “Ambassador for Environment” (1992-1995). From 1991 to 1992, she served as head of the International Organizations Division in the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. She has represented Australia and led Australian delegations to over 60 major international conferences and intergovernmental negotiations, including the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development and the 1993 World Conference on Human Rights in Vienna where she served as a Vice-President.

Ms. Wensley has held a number of international positions, notably in connection with work on international agreements and treaties dealing with the environment and sustainable development. Among the posts she held are: Vice Chairman of the United Nations Climate Change Convention Negotiations (1993-1996); Coordinator of the Western Group for Negotiation of the United Nations Convention on Biodiversity and Desertification (1994-1996); Chairman of the Preparatory Process of the United Nations Conference for the Sustainable Development of Small Island Developing States (1993-1994); Chairman of the International Coral Reef Initiative (ICRI) Conference (1995); Vice-Chairman of the United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR); and member of the World Health Organization High Level Advisory Council on Health and the Environment. Ms. Wensley has also held diplomatic appointments in Paris (1969-1972), Mexico City (1975-1977) and Wellington (1982- 1985), as well as the post of Consul General in Hong Kong (1986-1988).

A graduate of the University of Queensland, Ms. Wensley has a First Class Honours Degree in the English and French Languages and Literature. In 1974 she was awarded an honorary doctorate from her alma mater for her distinguished contributions to international relations. Ms. Wensley is Patron of the United Nations Youth Association of Australia and a Fellow of the Women’s College of the University of Queensland. Born in Toowoomba on 18 October 1946, Ms. Wensley is married and has two daughters.

* *** *