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About Us: Professor Tommy Koh

Professor Tommy Koh

Hall of Fame 2020 Laureate

“Singapore’s public toilets used to be filthy. The situation has changed for the better because of the joint efforts of a non- governmental organisation and the Government.

There is a remarkable Singaporean called Jack Sim, who founded the Restroom Association (Singapore) and the World Toilet Organisation. With his charisma and missionary zeal, he has made a huge impact on Singapore and the world. It was due to his suggestion that Singapore managed to convince the United Nations to designate November 19 as World Toilet Day.”

Professor Koh is a highly accomplished global diplomat and a passionate advocate for the Water and Sanitation Agenda. He was one of the first ardent supporters of the World Toilet Organization since our humble beginning in 2001 when he introduced me to the key members of the UN system. Over the last 20 years, he continues to promote the mission of the World Toilet Organization both globally and locally in Singapore. He also writes many articles about the importance of Sanitation and Water which are published and read widely.

He is currently Professor of Law at NUS; Ambassador-At-Large at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Singapore; He is the Co-chairman of the Asian Development Bank’s Advisory Committee on Water and Sanitation. He was also the first Chairman of the Asia Pacific Water Forum in 2007.  He is the Chairman of the Singapore International Water Summit.

He is the Chairman of the Board of Directors of the SymAsia Foundation of Credit Suisse. He had served as Dean of the Faculty of Law of NUS, Singapore’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations in New York, Ambassador to the United States of America, High Commissioner to Canada and Ambassador to Mexico. He was President of the Third UN Conference on the Law of the Sea.  He was also the Chairman of the Preparatory Committee for and the Main Committee of the UN Conference on Environment and Development (Earth Summit).  

He was the UN Secretary General’s Special Envoy to Russia, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. He was Singapore’s Chief Negotiator in negotiating an agreement to establish diplomatic relations between Singapore and China.  He was also Singapore’s Chief Negotiator for the US-Singapore Free Trade Agreement. He has chaired two dispute panels for the World Trade Organization. He is the Co‑Chairman of the China‑Singapore Forum and the Japan-Singapore Symposium.

Professor Koh has received awards from the Governments of Singapore, Chile, Finland, France, Japan, Netherlands, Spain and the United States.  Professor Koh received the Champion of the Earth Award from UNEP and the inaugural President’s Award for the Environment from Singapore.   He was conferred with honorary doctoral degrees in law by Yale and Monash Universities.  Harvard University conferred on him the Great Negotiator Award in 2014.

We are greatly indebted to Professor Tommy Koh’s service to humanity, and we honour him today with the World Toilet Organization Hall of Fame Award 2020.