9 May 2007

Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Biographical Note




Following consultations with the Director-General of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), Koichiro Matsuura, and with his concurrence, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has appointed Professor Konrad Osterwalder of Switzerland as Rector of the United Nations University (UNU).

Prof. Osterwalder will be the fifth Rector of the United Nations University.  He is expected to assume his position at the University's headquarters in Tokyo on 1 September.  The decision to appoint Prof. Osterwalder was taken after an extensive international search process.  Prof. Osterwalder will succeed Prof. Hans van Ginkel, a geographer from the Netherlands, who has served as UNU rector since 1997.

Prof. Osterwalder is a Swiss physicist who is the current Rector, as well as President ad interim, of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH), Zürich. 

He earned his doctorate in theoretical physics at ETH in 1970.  He has held positions at the Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences at New York University, Harvard University and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.  He has been a visiting fellow at a number of universities and research institutes around the world. Prof. Osterwalder was appointed as a full professor at ETH Zürich in 1977. 

Prof. Osterwalder’s research has focused on the mathematical structure of relativistic quantum field theory, elementary particle physics and statistical mechanics.  He has taught the natural sciences and engineering for more than two decades.  Since 1995, Prof. Osterwalder has served as the Rector of ETH-Zürich.

Prof. Osterwalder is a member of the Swiss Academy of Technical Sciences, and holds an honorary doctorate from the Helsinki Technical University. 

UNU is an international network of scholars that serves as a think tank for the United Nations system.  The UNU system comprises 13 research and training centres and programmes and several hundred cooperating research institutions and academics from more than 90 countries.  The University’s research, capacity development and knowledge-sharing activities are focused on issues of peace, governance, environment and sustainable development.

Prof. Osterwalder greatly values the importance of UNU, and intends to promote and enhance the collaboration of this key institution with leading institutions around the world.

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For information media • not an official record