Joseph Deiss

For the American author (1912-1999), see Joseph Jay Deiss.
Joseph Deiss
President of the United Nations General Assembly
In office
September 14, 2010  September 14, 2011
Vice President Mark Lyall Grant
Preceded by Ali Abdussalam Treki
Succeeded by Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser
Member of the Swiss Federal Council
In office
Preceded by Flavio Cotti
Succeeded by Doris Leuthard
President of Switzerland
In office
January 1, 2004  December 31, 2004
Vice President Samuel Schmid
Preceded by Pascal Couchepin
Succeeded by Samuel Schmid
Personal details
Born (1946-01-18) January 18, 1946
Fribourg, Switzerland
Nationality Swiss
Political party CVP/PDC
Profession Economist

Joseph Deiss (born January 18, 1946) is an economist, Swiss politician and a member of the Christian Democratic People's Party (CVP/PDC). From 1999 to 2006, he was a member of the Swiss Federal Council, heading first the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (1999–2002) and then the Federal Department of Economic Affairs (2003–2006). He was elected President of the United Nations General Assembly for its 65th session in 2010.[1]

Political career

Legislative and local experience

Joseph Deiss started his political career in 1981 as a representative of his party in the cantonal parliament of Fribourg. In 1991 he became the president of the cantonal parliament for one year. Between 1982 and 1996 Deiss was the mayor of his home village Barberêche (FR).

In 1991 he was elected to the National Council. From 1995 to 1996 Deiss was vice president of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the National Council. In 1996 he was made president of the committee in charge of the total revision of the Swiss Constitution.

In the Federal Council

Deiss was elected to the Swiss Federal Council on March 11, 1999, along with his erstwhile colleague Ruth Metzler-Arnold. Together with Adalbert Durrer and Remigio Ratti, he was one of three official candidates proposed by the CVP for the seat of retiring Councillor Flavio Cotti. However, the election became a narrow contest between Deiss and Peter Hess, who was favoured by many conservative representatives. Deiss eventually won after the sixth ballot, by 120 to 119 votes.[2]

In office, he has headed the following departments:

After the failure of Ruth Metzler to be re-elected in 2003, Metzler challenged him for his seat, but lost by 138 votes to 96. He was subsequently elected President of the Confederation for 2004, one year earlier than would have been regular. He became the only remaining representative of the CVP in the Council.

On April 27, 2006, Deiss rather unexpectedly resigned as Federal Councillor.[3] The CVP's seat not being contested by the other parties, he was succeeded by the president of the CVP, Doris Leuthard, who took over from Deiss on August 1, 2006.

Professional career

Joseph Deiss studied economics and social sciences for his first degree at the University of Fribourg. He continued to complete a doctorate at the same university after which he spent some time doing research at King's College at the University of Cambridge.

After this period of research Joseph Deiss took on the post of lecturing Economics at the University of Fribourg. In 1983 he was made visiting professor at a number of Swiss universities: ETH Zurich, University of Lausanne and University of Geneva.

From 1993 to 1996 Joseph Deiss acted as National Price Supervisor. He then returned to the University of Fribourg to become the Dean of the Faculty of Economics and Social Sciences. At this time at university, Joseph Deiss was also the chairman of the Board of Directors at Schumacher AG in Schmitten (FR) and chairman of the Raiffeisenbank in Haut-Lac, Courtepin (FR).

In 2009 Joseph Deiss was awarded an honorary degree Doctor Honoris Causa from Business School Lausanne in recognition of his achievements to reinforce and expand the political and economic position of Switzerland.

Personal life

Deiss is married and has three sons.

Joseph Deiss is an Honorary Member of The International Raoul Wallenberg Foundation Joseph Deiss is an Honorary Member of AFIS Swiss International Civil Servants Association



  1. Emch, Rita (June 11, 2010). "Swiss named president of UN General Assembly". Swissinfo. Retrieved 11 June 2010.
  2. Official Record of the United Federal Assembly, AB V 1999 625.
  3. Bundesrat Deiss tritt zurück, NZZ Online, April 27, 2006.
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Political offices
Preceded by
Flavio Cotti
Member of the Swiss Federal Council
Succeeded by
Doris Leuthard
Preceded by
Pascal Couchepin
President of Switzerland
Succeeded by
Samuel Schmid
Preceded by
Ali Abdussalam Treki
President of the United Nations General Assembly
Succeeded by
Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser
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