Tommy Koh

Tommy Koh Thong Bee DUNU (First Class), DUBC, PJG, BBM (born 12 November 1937) is a Singaporean international lawyer, professor and diplomat. He was also Singapore's former Permanent Representative to the United Nations.

Tommy Koh Thong Bee

Koh (centre) receiving the Padma Shri from Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2018 at The Istana with Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong also present
Born (1937-11-12) 12 November 1937
Diploma in Criminology
Alma materUniversity of Malaya
Harvard University
University of Cambridge
OccupationInternational lawyer, professor, and a diplomat
Known forFormer ambassador to the United Nations
Poh Siew Aing (m. 1967)
ChildrenWei Koh (son)
Aun Koh (son)
Tommy Koh
Simplified Chinese许通美

Early life and education

Koh was born in Singapore on 12 November 1937. His father was from Tong'an, Fujian and his mother was from Shanghai. He graduated from Raffles Institution and Serangoon Secondary School and received a LL.B. (First Class Honours) degree from the University of Malaya in Singapore (now the National University of Singapore). He holds a LL.M. from Harvard University and a post-graduate Diploma in Criminology from Cambridge University. He was conferred a full professorship in 1977. Koh was awarded an honorary LL.D. degrees from Yale University and Monash University. He has also received awards from Columbia University, Stanford University, Georgetown University, the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy (Tufts), and Curtin University.


Koh is an international lawyer, professor and Ambassador-at-Large for the Singaporean government. He presently serves as Special Adviser at the Institute of Policy Studies,[1] Chairman of the National Heritage Board, Chairman of the Governing Board of the Centre for International Law, and Rector of Tembusu College at the National University of Singapore. He is on secondment from the National University of Singapore Faculty of Law.[2]

Koh was President of the Third United Nations Conference on the Law of the Sea, 1980–1982. Lax and Sebenius present Koh and his efforts in getting the Convention passed, as an example of successful negotiating.[3] 1990 to 1992 he served as Chairman of the Main Committee of the UN Conference on Environment and Development, where he presided over the negotiations on Agenda 21. He has also served as Singapore's ambassador to the United Nations and the United States.

Koh was the first Executive Director of the Asia-Europe Foundation (ASEF), established in Singapore in 1997 by the countries of the Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM).

On 9 August 2008, Koh was conferred with the Order of Nila Utama (First Class) by the Singaporean government for his outstanding contributions in the Singapore legislative team representing Singapore in the Pedra Branca dispute case with the Malaysian government.[4]

Koh is on the panel of mediators for Singapore International Mediation Centre.

Selected writings

  • Tommy Koh, A Constitution of the Oceans, UNCLOS December 1982, accessed 20 May 2017
  • Tommy Koh, Five Years After Rio:Some Personal Reflections, UN Chronicle 1997, accessed at Essay 29 August 2006
  • Tommy T.B. Koh and Amitav Acharya (ed.), The Quest for World Order: Perspectives of a Pragmatic Idealist, Times Academic Press, Singapore, 1997 ISBN 981-210-108-X
  • Tommy Koh, Five Years After Rio:Some Personal Reflections, UN Chronicle 1997, accessed at Essay 29 August 2006
  • Tommy Koh (2013). The Tommy Koh Reader: Favourite Essays and Lectures. World Scientific, 2013. p. 640. doi:10.1142/8999. ISBN 978-981-4571-07-4.
  • Tommy Koh, Li Lin Chang and Joanna Koh (2015). 50 Years of Singapore and the United Nations. World Scientific, 2015. p. 384. doi:10.1142/9729. ISBN 978-981-4713-03-0.
  • Tommy Koh, Sharon Li-Lian Seah and Li Lin Chang (2017). 50 Years of ASEAN and Singapore. World Scientific, 2017. p. 444. doi:10.1142/10572. ISBN 9789813225121.
  • Tommy Koh and Li Lin Chang (2005). The Little Red Dot. World Scientific, 2005. p. 504. doi:10.1142/5893 (inactive 18 August 2019). ISBN 9789812564146.

Honours and awards


See also

  • Practical idealism
  • Koh, Buck Song (1996), Interview with Professor Tommy Koh in The Arts in Singapore, 1996, Singapore: National Arts Council and Accent Communications.


  1. "". Archived from the original on 17 July 2012. Retrieved 12 September 2010.
  2. "Institute of Policy Studies, Tommy Koh biography". Archived from the original on 17 July 2012. Retrieved 12 September 2010.
  3. David A. Lax and James K. Sebenius, "Thinking Coalitionally: Party Arithmetic, Process Opportunism, and Strategic Sequencing," in H. Peyton Young, ed. Negotiation Analysis. (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1991), pp. 153–194.
  4. "NDP awards". Straits Times. 8 September 2008.
  5. Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, "2009 Autumn Conferment of Decorations on Foreign Nationals," p. 2.
  6. [[Program on Negotiation at Harvard Law School and the Future of Diplomacy Project at Harvard Kennedy School (Cambridge, MA, USA)|Harvard Law School]], "The 2014 Great Negotiator Award Program"
This article is issued from Wikipedia. The text is licensed under Creative Commons - Attribution - Sharealike. Additional terms may apply for the media files.