On 13 June 2016, the United Nations General Assembly elected Peter Thomson of Fiji to serve as President of its seventy-first session, which runs from September 2016 to September 2017 (Press Release GA/11791). Mr. Thomson took office as his country’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations in New York in February 2010, serving concurrently as Ambassador to Cuba until he assumed his duties as President of the Assembly’s seventy-first session. While serving as Vice-President of the Assembly in 2011-2012, he was elected President of the Assembly of the International Seabed Authority’s 2011-2012 session and then as President of the Council of the Authority’s 2015-2016 session. For the duration of 2013, he chaired the largest United Nations negotiating bloc, the “Group of 77” developing countries and China. From January 2014 to January 2015, he was President of the Executive Board of the United Nations Development Programme/United Nations Population Fund/United Nations Office for Programme Support (UNDP/UNFPA/UNOPS).
Between 1972 and 1987, Mr. Thomson was a civil servant in the Government of Fiji, working in the fields of rural development and then foreign affairs. He began his career in the Fiji Government as a district officer in the rural regions of Navua, Macuata and Taveuni. In 1978, he joined the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Suva, where he took on political and economic development assistance responsibilities before being seconded to the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat in 1979.
Mr. Thomson was posted to Tokyo in 1981 with the responsibility of opening Fiji’s Embassy in Japan. He remained there as First Secretary (Economic) until 1984, when he was appointed Consul-General of Fiji in Sydney, Australia.
In 1986, he returned to Fiji to become Permanent Secretary for Information, first under the leadership of Prime Minister Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara, and then under Prime Minister Dr. Timoci Bavadra. In May 1987, Mr. Thomson was appointed Permanent Secretary to the Governor-General, Ratu Sir Penaia Ganilau, a position he held until his resignation from the civil service following Fiji’s second military coup d’état, in 1987.
Mr. Thomson has served as a board member of the Fiji Visitors Bureau, Fiji TV and the Fiji Broadcasting Commission. From 1988 to 2009, he worked in private enterprise as a company director, an investment consultant and a management consultant. Specializing in Pacific affairs, his clients ranged from Government agencies to regional organizations, banks, universities and investment corporations. A founding member of the executive committees of the Australia-Fiji Business Council and the New Zealand-Fiji Business Council, he was made a life member of the latter in 2007.
Born in Suva, Fiji’s capital, in 1948, Mr. Thomson was educated locally at Suva Grammar School and Natabua High School. In 1966-1967, he attended the International Centre at Sevenoaks School in the United Kingdom. A political studies and development studies graduate (Auckland University, New Zealand, and Cambridge University, United Kingdom, respectively) he has had a life-long involvement in the field of development.
Mr. Thomson is also a published author, and one of his books, Kava in the Blood, won a Montana Book Award for non-fiction. In 2014, he was made an Officer of the Order of Fiji, an award bestowed by the President in recognition of the achievements and contributions of Fijians to the nation.
He is married to Marijcke Thomson since 1973, and they have a son, a daughter and three granddaughters.
* This supersedes Press Release BIO/4170 of 4 March 2010.