Sir John Eaton HOLMES
Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, United Nations, New York
On 1 March 2007, the Secretary-General announced the appointment of Mr. John Holmes of the United Kingdom as the new Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator succeeding Mr. Jan Egeland.
Mr. Holmes was previously the British Ambassador in Paris from October 2001 to February 2007. A career diplomat, he joined the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in 1973, and served in a wide range of posts and roles. He began his career in London, including a spell covering the United Nations, which involved a period of temporary duty at the 1975 General Assembly as part of the British Mission to the UN in New York. In 1976, he was appointed to the British Embassy in Moscow as a Second Secretary. Returning to London in 1978, he dealt with Lebanon and the Middle East peace process before being appointed Assistant Private Secretary to the British Foreign Secretary in 1982, covering the Middle East, Africa, Asia and Latin America. In 1984, he went to the British Embassy in Paris as First Secretary to cover economic and European Union questions.
He returned to London in 1987 as Assistant Head of the then Soviet Department in the FCO, and subsequently spent two years between 1989 and 1991 on secondment to Thomas De La Rue, a British company of security printers. In 1991 he went to India as Political, then Economic and Commercial Counsellor at the British High Commission in New Delhi, supervising the British aid programme as well as economic and commercial issues.
On return to London in 1995, he was briefly head of the European Union Department (External) in the FCO before joining the then Prime Minister John Major in Downing Street as his Private Secretary (Overseas Affairs) and diplomatic adviser. He continued this role with Prime Minister Tony Blair from 1997 to 1999, becoming Principal Private Secretary. He was also the British G8 Sherpa during this time, including the British G8 Presidency of 1998. He was awarded a knighthood in 1999, primarily for his role in the Northern Ireland peace process and the Good Friday Agreement.
From 1999 to 2001, John Holmes was the British Ambassador in Lisbon, before moving on to Paris from 2001 - 2007.