Australian Commonwealth Coat of Arms

Diplomatic appointment - Ambassador to the United Nations - Geneva

12 February 2010

Media release

Today I announce the appointment of Mr Peter Woolcott as Australia’s Ambassador and Permanent Representative to the United Nations (UN) in Geneva and to the Conference on Disarmament.  Mr Woolcott will also be Australia’s Ambassador for Disarmament. He replaces Caroline Millar who was Ambassador from 2006.

Geneva is a major centre for the UN.  It is home to UN and other specialised agencies and forums on disarmament, human rights, humanitarian, refugee, health and labour issues.  Australian engagement of these agencies and forums is vital given their role in setting global standards and responses on key issues affecting Australia’s interests.

Consistent with the Government’s strengthened commitment to human rights at home and abroad, Australia is closely engaged in the work of the Human Rights Council (HRC) in Geneva.  The review of the HRC, due to commence later this year, will be a priority as Australia works to better protect and promote human rights internationally.

Recent humanitarian crises have underlined the importance of Australia’s engagement with humanitarian organisations in Geneva, including the UN Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) and the Red Cross.

Australia is also working with the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to address protracted refugee situations and to find durable solutions to existing situations.  And we are active on global health issues and the work of the World Health Organisation (WHO) and new public-private health partnerships.

The Geneva-based Conference on Disarmament and Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty meetings are a focus for Australia’s efforts to strengthen global regimes to prevent WMD proliferation.  The position of the NPT as a central pillar of the global non-proliferation and disarmament framework, and parallel efforts, including towards a Fissile Material Cut-Off Treaty, are fundamental to Australia’s security.  As Ambassador for Disarmament, Mr Woolcott will be responsible for advancing Australia’s interests on these issues and on conventional arms control in UN and other organisations in Geneva.

Mr Woolcott is a senior officer with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) and is currently Ambassador for People Smuggling Issues, a position he has held since June 2009.  Prior to this he was First Assistant Secretary, South East Asia Division. Mr Woolcott served as Chief of Staff to the Minister for Foreign Affairs (2002-04).

Mr Woolcott served as Australian Ambassador in Rome and Permanent Representative to the World Food Programme and the Food and Agricultural Organisation. Other overseas service includes Jakarta, Honolulu, Manila, Buenos Aires and Kingston.

Mr Woolcott holds Bachelor of Law and Bachelor of Arts degrees from the Australian National University and a Master of Arts degree from Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Tufts University. 

He practised as a barrister in Sydney for a number of years before joining DFAT in 1981.  Mr Woolcott is married and has two sons and a daughter.

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