Press Releases

    UNIS/INF/29
    15 September 2004

    Jean Ping (Gabon), President of Fifty-Ninth Session of General Assembly

    Jean Ping, President of the fifty-ninth session of the United Nations General Assembly, has been Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Gabonese Republic since 1999 and a Member of Parliament since 1996.

    Mr. Ping has headed his country’s delegation at numerous sessions of the General Assembly, as well as at international conferences and summits. He began his professional life at the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in Paris, where he was recruited in 1972 as an international civil servant in the Sector for External Relations and Cooperation.  He also served as President of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries in 1993.

    His distinguished 32-year career in government has been marked by diplomatic success, notably through his contribution to the efforts of the President of Gabon, El Hadj Omar Bongo Ondimba, to restore peace and stability in Central Africa, in particular in the Republic of the Congo, Chad, Central African Republic and Sao Tomé and Principe.

    He served as Director of the Cabinet of the President of Gabon until 1990, when he was appointed Minister of Information. Mr. Ping held a succession of posts at the ministerial level until his appointment in 1999 as Minister for Foreign Affairs, Cooperation and la Francophonie.

    Mr. Ping holds a doctorate in economics from the University of Paris I (Panthéon-Sorbonne). A recipient of numerous honours in recognition of his outstanding career and service to his country, Mr. Ping has been awarded Gabon’s medals of Commander of the Equatorial Star, Grand Officer of the Equatorial Star, Commander of the Maritime Order and Commander of the Gabonese National Order of Merit.

    Born in 1942 in Omboue, in the Etimbwe region of Gabon, Mr. Ping is the author of several publications. He is married with children.

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    Chairman of First Committee -- Luis Alfonso De Alba of Mexico

    Luis Alfonso De Alba, Permanent Representative of Mexico to the International Organizations in Geneva, was elected as Chairman of the First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) on 10 June.

    Mr. De Alba, who joined the Mexican Foreign Service in 1981, served as the Deputy Permanent Representative of Mexico to the United Nations from March 2002 to March 2004. Before that, from 1998 to 2001, he was Director General for the United Nations in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Mexico. He also served as Deputy Permanent Representative of Mexico to the Organization of American States in Washington, D.C., from 1994 to 1998.

    From 1991 to 1993, Mr. De Alba held the post of Director of Humanitarian and Social Affairs for the United Nations in the Foreign Ministry. Prior to that, he was Director of Education and Sports in the Ministry of Planning and Budget, from 1989 to 1990, and Adviser to the Minister for Foreign Affairs in 1988.

    Mr. De Alba also served as Chief of the Political Affairs Section of the United Nations in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs from 1983 to 1988 and as Third Secretary at the Permanent Mission of Mexico to the United Nations from 1983 to 1986.

    Born in 1957 in Lagos de Moreno in the state of Jelisco, Mexico, Mr. De Alba holds a B.A. in international affairs from the Institut d’Etudes des Relations Internationales in Paris.

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    Chairman of Second Committee -- Marco Balarezo of Peru

    Marco Balarezo, elected Chairman of the Second Committee (Economic and Financial) on 10 June, has served as the Deputy Permanent Representative of Peru to the United Nations since April 2001.

    Since his appointment as Deputy Permanent Representative, Mr. Balarezo has served as Vice-Chairman of the Executive Board of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) in 2004. In 2003, he was Chairman of the Committee on Negotiations with Intergovernmental Agencies of the Economic and Social Council, and Vice-Chairman of the Preparatory Committee of the International Conference on Financing for Development in Monterrey, Mexico, in 2002.

      Previously, Mr. Balarezo was Minister Counsellor at Peru’s Mission to the United Nations (2001). In his country’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, he served as Minister Counsellor, Deputy Director of the Andean Countries Affairs and of the Andean Community of Nations (2000-2001); and Counsellor, Head of the Department of America and Integration (1999-2000).

    Mr. Balarezo also served as Economic and Commercial Counsellor in Peru’s Embassy to Chile (1997-1999), Consul-General of Peru to Chile (1994-1997), and Second Secretary in Peru’s Embassy to the United States from 1987.

    He has also held the posts of Professor-Assistant at the University of Lima on National Reality and Contemporary Ideologies, Faculty of Administrative Sciences (1999), and Professor on Integration at the Diplomatic Academy of Peru (1999).

    Holder of a Master of Arts degree from Tufts University/Harvard University, Mr. Balarezo has published several articles on integration and regional trade liberalization.

    Born on 24 September 1957, Mr. Balarezo is married and has two children.

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    Chairman of Third Committee -- Valeriy P. Kuchinsky of Ukraine

    Valeriy P. Kuchinsky, Permanent Representative of Ukraine, was elected Chairman of the Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) for the General Assembly’s fifty-ninth session on 10 June.

    Having been named Permanent Representative of Ukraine to the United Nations in September 2001, he has also served as Vice-President of the Economic and Social Council from 2003 to 2004.

    Prior to his appointment as Permanent Representative, Mr. Kuchinsky served as acting Permanent Representative to the United Nations from November 2000 and as the First Deputy Permanent Representative from December 1999. He has also served as Ukraine’s Ambassador to Jamaica since 2002 and to Trinidad and Tobago since 2003.

    Except from the years of 1975 to 1980 -- when he was a member of the United Nations Secretariat -- Mr. Kuchinsky has worked for his country’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs since 1971. He has held posts in the Ministry’s Departments of International Organizations and of the Americas, ultimately serving as Director-General of the former from 1997 to 1998 and of the latter from 1998 to 1999.

    He has also served as Deputy Chief of Mission at the Ukrainian Embassy to the United States in Washington, D.C., (1992-1997) and as Director of the Ministry’s Department of Arms Control and Disarmament (1990-1992).

    Additionally, he has served on the Board of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and as Executive Secretary of the Ukrainian National Commission for the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organizations (UNESCO).

    Born in Kyiv, Ukraine, on 25 October 1944, Mr. Kuchinsky is married and has a son and daughter.

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    Chairman of Fourth Committee -- Kyaw Tint Swe of Myanmar

    Kyaw Tint Swe, Permanent Representative of Myanmar, was elected Chairman of the Fourth Committee (Special Political and Decolonization) on 10 June this year.

    Prior to his appointment as Permanent Representative in April 2001, Mr. Swe was Director-General of the International Organizations and Economic Department of his country’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

    From 1990 to 1993, and from 1997 to 2001, he served as Secretary of Myanmar’s National Commission for Environmental Affairs. In that capacity, he also served as Chairman of the Senior Officials for the Environment for the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN), and was a principal in formulating the environmental policy of Myanmar and the Myanmar Agenda-21.

    Having joined the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in 1968, Mr. Swe did his diplomatic training in Australia. He went on to serve in varied capacities within the Ministry, as well as in the embassies of Myanmar in Israel, Malaysia, Germany, Thailand and Japan.

    Mr. Swe was also a member of the Myanmar delegation to the General Assembly, as well as to numerous international meetings, including the United Nations Conference on the Environment and Development (UNCED), the World Conference on Human Rights and the World Conference on Women.

    He received a bachelor’s degree from the University of Yangon in Myanmar and a post-graduate diploma in international relations and development at the Institute of Social Studies in The Hague.

    Born on 19 March 1945, Mr. Swe is married and has two children.

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    Chairman of Fifth Committee -- Don Mackay of New Zealand

    Don MacKay, who was elected Chairman of the Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) on 10 June, has been Permanent Representative of New Zealand to the United Nations since January 2001.

    Prior to his appointment as Permanent Representative, Mr. MacKay was Deputy Secretary in the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade since September 1997. He entered that Ministry in 1975, and has since occupied a number of senior positions within it, including Director of its Legal Division (1995-1996), Ambassador to Fiji and High Commissioner to Nauru and Tuvalu (1991-1995), Director of its Disarmament and International Security Division, and head of its Special Arbitration Unit.

    During his service with the Ministry, Mr. MacKay acted as Counsel in the Rainbow Warrior Arbitration (New York) and Co-Agent and Counsel in the New Zealand v. France (Nuclear Tests Case) before the International Court of Justice. He also served in the New Zealand Permanent Mission to the United Nations from 1977 to 1981, and as New Zealand's Permanent Representative to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) from 1986 to 1988.

    Prior to entering the Ministry, Mr. MacKay was a Solicitor and a Law Clerk to the Judges of the Court of Appeal and High Court, Wellington.

    Mr. MacKay graduated from Victoria University of Wellington with a Bachelor of Laws degree (first class honours) in 1970.  He completed his law professional qualifications and was admitted as a Barrister and Solicitor of the High Court in 1971. He spent two months as Visiting Fellow at the Research Centre for International Law at the University of Cambridge (United Kingdom) in 1996.

    Born in 1948 in Waipukurau, New Zealand, Mr. MacKay is married with two children.

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    Chairman of Sixth Committee -- Mohamed Bennouna of Morocco

    Mohamed Bennouna, Permanent Representative of Morocco, was elected Chairman of the Sixth Committee (Legal) on 10 June.

    Prior to his appointment as Permanent Representative in 2001, Mr. Bennouna served as a judge of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia from 1998.  Previously, from 1991 to 1998, he was Director-General of the Arab World Institute in Paris.  From 1985 until 1989 he was Morocco’s Deputy Permanent Representative to the United Nations in New York.

    Mr. Bennouna was a Professor at the Faculty of Law of Mohammed V University of Rabat and Casablanca, Morocco, from 1975 until 1979. In 1975 he became Dean of the Faculty of Law. In 1972 he was a Professor in public law and political science at the Sorbonne in Paris.

    He holds degrees in public law and in political science from the University of Nancy, France, and the Sorbonne in Paris. In 1970 he received a diploma from The Hague Academy of International Law, and in 1972 a Doctorate in international law from the University of Nancy, France.

    Mr. Bennouna’s legal expertise includes chairing a panel of the United Nations Compensation Commission. He was a member of the International Law Commission in Geneva from 1986 to 1998.

    Born in 1943 in Marrakech, Mr. Bennouna is married and has three children.

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