Press Releases

     
    For information only - not an official document.
    Biographical Notes Press Release No: UNIS/BIO/534
    Release Date:  6 September 2000
     Harri Holkeri, Former Prime Minister of Finland, Elected President
    Of Millennium Assembly

     (Based on information received from the Protocol and Liaison Service)

      Harri Holkeri, a former Prime Minister of Finland, was today elected the President of the fifty-fifth session of the United Nations General Assembly.

     From 1987 to 1991, Mr. Holkeri was Prime Minister of Finland, heading a coalition formed by his own Conservative party and the Social Democrats. In a political career that spanned several decades, he served as Secretary of the national Coalition Party from 1965 to 1971 and as its Party Leader from 1971 to 1979. From 1970 to 1978, he was a Member of Parliament. He also served as a Member of the Board of Governors of the Bank of Finland from 1978 to 1997, and Chair of the Helsinki City Council from 1981 to 1987. 

     At the international level, Mr. Holkeri was a member of the Finnish delegation to the United Nations General Assembly from 1963 to 1965. During his career as Member of Parliament he held various international positions, including as a member of the Nordic Council from 1975 to 1978 and Vice-President of the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) Parliamentarians from 1974 to 1975. He assumed the Presidency of that body in 1976. 

     Mr. Holkeri was one of three independent chairmen of the multi-party peace negotiations convened to end the conflict in Northern Ireland. From 1995, he was a member of the International Body, a group set up by the Governments of the United Kingdom and Ireland for the purpose of decommissioning illegal weapons in Northern Ireland. 

     Among other honours, in 1991 he was invested as Honorary Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire, for his achievements in the Northern Ireland peace process. In 1998, Finnish President Ahtisaari accorded him a Finnish honorary title, "Valtioneuvos," for his national and international achievements. 

     Born on 6 January 1937, Mr. Holkeri earned a Master’s in Political Science from the University of Helsinki. He holds the military rank of Major in the Finnish reserve forces. He is the Chairman of the Board of Finnair, Finland's national airline, and sits on the boards of various Finnish industries and organizations.

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    Chairman of Second Committee: Alexandru Niculescu of Romania

     Alexandru A. Niculescu, who was elected Chairman of the Second Committee (Economic and Financial) for the fifty-fifth session of the General Assembly this afternoon, has served as Minister Counselor and Deputy Permanent Representative of Romania to the United Nations since 1999. He served as Vice-Chairman of the Second Committee at the Assembly’s fifty-fourth session.

     Mr. Niculescu has held various positions with United Nations bodies including Vice-Chairman of the General Conference of the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) in 1997 and Vice-Chairman of the Economic and Social Council in 1995. 

     From 1995 to 1998, Mr. Niculescu served as Director of his country's Division for the United Nations and other Specialized Institutions. Prior to that, he was the Charge d’affaires at the Permanent Mission of Romania to the United Nations Office in Geneva from 1990 to 1991 and Deputy Permanent Representative from 1991-1995. He served as Second Secretary at the Embassy of Romania to Beijing from 1973-1978. 

     He has been a member of his country’s delegation to international meetings, including the United Nations General Assembly, and the Conference for Security and Cooperation in Europe, and headed Romania’s delegation to the annual session of the Economic Commission for Europe in 1998.

     Mr. Niculescu graduated in 1962 from the Poly-technical Institute in Bucharest, having specialized in Television. He completed his post-graduate studies in International Relations at the University of Law in Bucharest in 1964. 

     Born on 1 January 1941, Mr. Niculescu is married and has three children.

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    Chairperson of Third Committee: Yvonne Gittens-Joseph of Trinidad and Tobago

     Yvonne Gittens-Joseph, who was elected Chairperson of the Third Committee (Social, Cultural and Humanitarian) for the General Assembly's fifty-fifth session this afternoon, has been the Deputy Permanent Representative of Trinidad and Tobago to the United Nations since February 1995.

     Prior to her appointment to the Trinidad and Tobago Permanent Mission to the United Nations, Mrs. Gittens-Joseph was Director of the Political Affairs Division of her country's Ministry of Foreign Affairs. She had previously served in a number of that Ministry's divisions, including its Division of International Economic Relations and International Trade. 

     From September 1981 to March 1983, she served as Deputy High Commissioner to India, and from August 1977 to August 1981 she was First Secretary at Trinidad and Tobago's Mission to the United Nations in Geneva.

     Mrs. Gittens-Joseph has represented her country at a number of international conferences, including the 1978 and 1980 General Conferences of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the World Health Assemblies from 1979 to 1981, the Food and Agricultural Organization’s General Conference in 1979, the Seventh Summit Meeting of Non-Aligned Countries and the Second Ministerial Meeting of the Caribbean Community/Central America. 

     She also participated in the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in 1993, the 1994 Meeting of Foreign Ministers of the Non-Aligned Movement and the Fourth World Conference on Women in 1995. In April 1994 she was part of the United Nations Observer Mission in South Africa (UNOMSA). Before joining the Trinidad and Tobago Ministry of Foreign Affairs, she worked in her country's Ministry of Planning and Development. 

     Mrs. Gittens-Joseph holds a Bachelor of Science Honors degree in Social Sciences and a post-graduate diploma in International Relations from the University of the West Indies in Trinidad.

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    Chairman of Fourth Committee: Matia Mulumba Semakula Kiwanuka of Uganda

     Uganda’s Ambassador and Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Matia Mulumba Semakula Kiwanuka, was elected Chairman of the General Assembly’s Fourth Committee (Special Political and Decolonization) this afternoon. 

     Prior to becoming the Ugandan Permanent Representative in 1996, Mr. Semakula Kiwanuka was executive director of the Management Training and Advisory Centre in Uganda. In that capacity, he was a consultant to the Ugandan Government in the divestiture, privatization and downsizing of the country’s public sector. 

     From 1991 to 1994, Mr. Semakula Kiwanuka was Dean of Makerere University’s School of Post Graduate Studies and Research. He served as Counterpart Chief Technical Adviser and Director of Planning and Project Coordination for a United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) project on capacity-building and institutional strengthening from 1988 to 1990, having previously worked with the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) from 1985 to 1987. 

     From 1979 to 1981, he served as Senior Presidential Adviser on the reconstruction and rehabilitation of Uganda that followed the end of the Amin regime. He has worked extensively as a university lecturer, researcher and administrator 

     Mr. Semakula Kiwanuka has also served as Minister of Culture in the Royal Kingdom of Buganda, and a member of that Kingdom’s Royal Council.

     He holds a Ph.D in African History from the University of London. As well as bachelors’ degrees in history from London and Makerere Universities, he has undertaken post-doctoral work at various academic institutions. 

     Mr. Semakula Kiwanuka is married with children.

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    Chairman of Fifth Committee: Gert Rosenthal of Guatemala

     Gert Rosenthal, the Permanent Representative of Guatemala to the United Nations, was today elected Chairman of the General Assembly’s Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary). 

     Mr. Rosenthal has been Guatemala’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations since December 1998. Prior to taking up that position, he served on the Follow-up Commission of the Guatemalan Peace Accords. 

     From 1988 to 1997, he was Executive Secretary of the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC). He joined that United Nations regional commission in 1974 as Director of its Mexico office, and in 1987 was appointed its Deputy Executive Secretary. 

     Mr. Rosenthal held various positions in Guatemala’s national public administration since joining its Secretariat of Economic Planning in 1960. From 1969 to 1971, and again in 1973 through 1974 he was Minister of Planning. Between 1969 and 1970, he was the Secretary-General of his country's National Council for Economic Planning. 

     In 1971 he was a Fellow for the Adlai Stevenson Institute for International Affairs in Chicago. He holds a bachelors degree and a masters degree in economics from the University of California at Berkeley. From 1970 to 1974, he was Professor of Public Finance and Economic Development at the Universidad Rafael Landivar in Guatemala. 

     Born on 11 September 1935, Mr. Rosenthal is married and has four daughters. 

     * * * * *

    Chairman of Sixth Committee: Mauro Politi of Italy

     Mauro Politi of Italy was elected Chairman of the General Assembly’s Sixth Committee (Legal) this afternoon. Since 1992, Mr. Politi has been Legal Adviser to the Italian Permanent Mission to the United Nations.

     In 1990, Mr. Politi was appointed Professor of International Law at the University of Trento. Throughout the 1970s and 1980s he held professorial posts at Trento and at the Universities of Caligari and Urbino. 

     In 1983 he became an Appellate Judge, having previously served as Judge of the Civil and Criminal Tribunal of Milan from 1975 to 1983, as Deputy Prosecutor at the Milan Juvenile Court from 1972 to 1975, and as Judge on the Tribunal of Oristano in 1972. 

     Mr. Politi has also represented his country at a number of major international conferences since 1986. He was a member of the Italian delegation and coordinator on the issue of children in armed conflicts at the 1996 United Nations Conference on the Establishment of an International Criminal Court in Rome. He was Italy’s delegate to the Vancouver Meeting on the Statute of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia in 1993, and a member of the Italian delegation to the Preparatory Committee for the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development. 

     Mr. Politi holds a law degree magna cum laude from the University of Florence.

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