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Ex-WTO chief, UN envoy Peter Sutherland dies at 71

Irish businessman and diplomat Peter Sutherland in Cernobbio,

Irish businessman and diplomat Peter Sutherland in Cernobbio, Italy, on Sept. 7, 2012. Credit: AP / Giuseppe Aresu

LONDON — Irish businessman and diplomat Peter Sutherland, who held senior roles in the European Union, the World Trade Organization and the United Nations, has died. He was 71.

Sutherland’s family said he died Sunday at a Dublin hospital after a long illness.

Trained as a lawyer, Sutherland was Ireland’s attorney general between 1981 and 1984. He was Ireland’s representative on the European Commission between 1985 and 1989, working to streamline the bloc’s completion policy and setting up the hugely popular Erasmus study-abroad program for European students.

Sutherland became founding director-general of the World Trade Organization in 1993, and in 2006 was named the United Nations’ envoy on international migration.

Business roles included stints as chairman of Allied Irish Bank, finance firm Goldman Sachs and oil company BP.

Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar said Sutherland was “an Irishman, a committed European and a proud internationalist.”

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said Sutherland was “a true European.”

“He believed strongly in the work of the European Union and other international organizations and their importance for cooperation and international dialogue,” Juncker said.

Sutherland is survived by his wife Maruja, three children and several grandchildren.

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