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.
Under his leadership, the ICRC carries out humanitarian work in over 80 countries. Mr Maurer's priorities for his presidency include strengthening humanitarian diplomacy, engaging States and other actors for the respect of international humanitarian law, and improving the humanitarian response through innovation and new partnerships.
Since taking over the presidency of the ICRC, Mr Maurer has led the organization through a historic budget increase, from 1.1bn CHF in 2011 to over 1.8bn CHF in 2016.