2014: Tommy Koh, Former UN Representative for Singapore

A veteran Singapore diplomat, Ambassador Tommy Koh has spent more than five decades in public service. Early in his career, he served as Singapore’s permanent representative to the United Nations before being appointed ambassador to the United States. He subsequently served as president of the Third UN Conference on the Law of the Sea and as chairman of both the Preparatory Committee and the Main Committee of the UN Conference on Environment and Development.

In 1993, the UN secretary-general appointed Ambassador Koh as his special envoy charged with leading a mission to Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, and the Russian Federation. In 1997, Koh became the founding executive director of the Asia-Europe Foundation. Most recently, he served as ambassador-at-large in Singapore’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, special adviser at the Institute for Policy Studies, and chairman of Singapore’s National Heritage Board.

Tommy Koh received the Great Negotiator Award for his multiple contributions to diplomacy, most notably his work as chief negotiator for the United States–Singapore Free Trade Agreement, his work around developing the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, his important efforts in resolving territorial and humanitarian disputes in the Baltics and Asia, and his success in leading both the Third UN Conference on the Law of the Sea and the UN Conference on Environment and Development (also known as the Rio Earth Summit).


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