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Peter Sutherland: Wikis


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Peter Sutherland

In office
1 July 1993 – 1 May 1995
Preceded by Arthur Dunkel as Director-General of the GATT
Succeeded by Renato Ruggiero

Born 25 April 1946 (1946-04-25) (age 63)
Nationality Irish

Peter Denis Sutherland, Honorary KCMG (born 25 April 1946) is an international businessman and former Attorney General of Ireland, associated with the Fine Gael party (part of the Christian Democrat bloc). He is a barrister by profession, and is also Senior Counsel at the Irish Bar. He is also known for serving in a variety of business and political roles.

Son of the late William "Billy" Sutherland, an insurance broker, Peter Sutherland was educated at Gonzaga College, a Jesuit day school in Dublin and then studied law at University College Dublin. He played prop forward for the UCD rugby team and was club captain, a role he later filled at Landsdowne Football Club, before retiring from the sport in his mid-20s. He remains an active member of Lansdowne F.C.

After UCD, he studied at the King's Inns in Dublin and was called to the Bar in 1969 and practiced until 1981 when, aged 34, he was the youngest Attorney General of Ireland. He served under two Governments led by Garret FitzGerald. He also advised the FitzGerald government on the Eighth Amendment of the Constitution of Ireland which introduced a constitutional ban on abortion, though Sutherland opposed the wording on grounds that it was ambiguous and unclear.

He was appointed to the European Commission in 1985 and had responsibility for competition policy and, later, also for education. He has said that he was especially pleased to have helped to establish the ERASMUS programme (European Regional Action Scheme for Mobility of University Students) that allows European University students to study in other member states.

He was the youngest ever European Commissioner and served in the first Delors Commission, where he played a crucial role in opening up competition across Europe, particularly the airline, telecoms, and energy sectors. Subsequently he was Director General of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (now the World Trade Organisation). Later Mickey Kantor, the US Trade Minister, credited him with being the father of globalization and said that without him there would have been no WTO.[citation needed] The Uruguay round of global trade talks, concluded in 1994 with Sutherland as chair of Gatt, produced the biggest trade agreement in history and established the World Trade Organisation.

He is currently serving as Chairman of both BP and Goldman Sachs International (a registered UK broker-dealer, a subsidiary of Goldman Sachs) and is a non-executive director of the Royal Bank of Scotland Group. He has formerly served on the board of ABB.

He is on the steering committee of the Bilderberg Group[citation needed], a chairman of the Trilateral Commission[1] and vice chairman of the European Round Table of Industrialists.[2]

He is a member of the Comite d'Honneur of the Institute of European Affairs, and an Honorary President of the European Movement Ireland.[3]

Peter Sutherland (left) speaking with Garret FitzGerald (centre) and Will Hutton (right), at the Institute of European Affairs in Dublin in 2006.

He was appointed as a member of the Hong Kong Chief Executive's Council of International Advisers in the years of 1998–2005.[4]

He is President of the Federal Trust for Education and Research, a British think tank. He is Chairman of The Ireland Fund of Great Britain, part of The Ireland Funds.[5] He is a member of the advisory council of Business for New Europe, a British pro-European think-tank.[6]

In 2005, he was appointed as Goodwill Ambassador for the United Nations Industrial Development Organization.[7] In Spring 2006 he was appointed Chair of London School of Economics Council commencing in 2008.[8]

Peter Sutherland also serves on the International Advisory Board of IESE,[9] the eminent graduate business school of the prestigious Spanish university, the University of Navarra.

In January 2006, he was appointed by United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan as his Special Representative for Migration. In this position, he was responsible for promoting the establishment of a Global Forum on Migration and Development, a state-led effort open to all UN members that is meant to help governments better understand how migration can benefit their development goals. The Global Forum was acclaimed by UN Member States at the UN High-Level Dialogue on International Migration and Development, in September 2006, and will be launched in Brussels in July 2007.

On 5 December 2006, he was appointed as Consultor of the Extraordinary Section of the Administration of the Patrimony of the Apostolic See (a financial adviser to the Vatican).[10]

On 22 January 2010 he said while in Dublin that Ireland should have fewer universities.[11][12][13]

2010 interview

It was revealed that In summer 2009, during a holiday, one of his children noticed a swelling on his throat while they sat on a beach. Within a week he was back home in London undergoing a major operation. Sutherland had an operation for throat cancer in August 2009 and following the operation he underwent chemotherapy and radiotherapy.[14]

For Sutherland, a Europhile, the worst part about his illness was missing the “mortal combat” of fighting for the Yes vote in the second Lisbon referendum.

Sutherland visited Brian Lenihan to tell him what a great job he thought he was doing and to say that Lenihan had the potential to be one of the great taoisigh of the 21st century. Lenihan was taken aback, he says. Sutherland believes Ireland failed in economic terms over most of the past four decades with the exception of a “sparkling period” from 1994 to 2002 when the State took advantage of EU changes freeing up the movement of goods, capital and services across Europe.[15]

Outside banking, Sutherland in early 2010 finished a 13-year stint as chairman of BP, Europe’s largest oil company. At one point during his tenure, the company was valued on the stock market at £236 billion (it is currently worth about £120 billion) and was making £42 million a day in profits.[16]

He was twice offered the job of UN High Commissioner for Refugees by Kofi Annan, a fact, he says, that he has never disclosed publicly before, but he declined both times due to other commitments. He cites his work at GATT and the introduction of the Erasmus student exchange programme when he briefly held the education portfolio at the Commission in 1986 as his two most rewarding achievements.[17]

The next stage of his career Surtherland disclosed that he has decided to join three boards – at German insurer Allianz; Koc Holdings, Turkey’s largest conglomerate; and a Chinese shipping company.[18]


Legal offices
Preceded by
Anthony J. Hederman
Attorney General of Ireland
Succeeded by
Patrick Connolly
Preceded by
John L. Murray
Attorney General of Ireland
Succeeded by
John Rogers
Political offices
Preceded by
Richard Burke
Irish European Commissioner
Succeeded by
Ray MacSharry
Preceded by
Frans Andriessen
European Commissioner for Competition
Succeeded by
Leon Brittan
Non-profit organization positions
Preceded by
Arthur Dunkel
Director-General of the World Trade Organization
Succeeded by
Renato Ruggiero


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