The president and vice-president of the ICRC
The ICRC has a president and a vice-president. The president, who bears primary responsibility for the ICRC’s external relations, represents the ICRC on the international scene and, in close cooperation with the directorate general, handles the ICRC’s humanitarian diplomacy. At the internal level, he attends to the cohesion, smooth running and development of the organization.
Peter Maurer was born in Thun, Switzerland, in 1956. He studied history and international law in Bern, where he was awarded a doctorate. In 1987 he entered the Swiss diplomatic service, where he held various positions in Bern and Pretoria before being transferred to New York in 1996 as deputy permanent observer at the Swiss mission to the United Nations. In 2000 he was appointed ambassador and head of the human security division in the political directorate of the Swiss Department of Foreign Affairs in Bern.
In 2004 Mr Maurer was appointed ambassador and permanent representative of Switzerland to the United Nations in New York. In this position, he worked to integrate Switzerland, which had only recently joined the United Nations, into multilateral networks. In June 2009, the UN General Assembly elected Mr Maurer chairman of the Fifth Committee, in charge of administrative and budgetary affairs. In addition, he was elected chairman of the Burundi configuration of the UN Peacebuilding Commission. In January 2010 Mr Maurer was appointed secretary of State for foreign affairs in Bern and took over the reins of the Swiss Department of Foreign Affairs, with its five directorates and some 150 Swiss diplomatic missions around the world. He succeeded Jakob Kellenberger as ICRC president on 1 July 2012.
Christine Beerli was born in 1953. A member of a law firm in Biel, Ms Beerli began her political career on that city's municipal council, where she served from 1980 to 1983. From 1986 to 1991 she was a member of the legislative assembly of the Canton of Bern. In 1991 she was elected to the upper house of the Swiss parliament, where she remained until 2003, chairing the foreign affairs committee (1998-1999) and the committee for social security and health (2000-2001). Ms Beerli chaired the caucus of the Free Democratic Party in Switzerland's federal assembly from 1996 to 2003. She also served on committees dealing with security policy and economic and legal affairs. She retired from politics in 2003. Since 1st January 2006 she has headed Swissmedic, the Swiss supervisory authority for therapeutic products. She is former director of the School of Engineering and Information Technology at Bern University of Applied Sciences.
In January 2008, Ms Beerli was appointed permanent Vice-President of the ICRC. As such she is a member of the ICRC Assembly – the institution's supreme governing body – as well as the Assembly Council and the Presidency, where she works closely with the President and deputises for him whenever necessary. This includes handling the ICRC's external relations, representing the ICRC on the international scene and, in close cooperation with the directorate general, handling the ICRC's humanitarian diplomacy. Her particular areas of focus include helping to ensure the cohesion, smooth running and development of governance mechanisms and internal control, as well as strengthening and developing relationships within the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement.