Expert Profile

Ambassador Thomas Greminger
Position(s) Executive Director of the Geneva Centre for Security Policy (GCSP)

Ambassador Thomas Greminger served as Secretary General of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) from July 2017 until July 2020. On May 1, 2021, he took over as Executive Director of the Geneva Centre for Security Policy (GCSP).

As Secretary General, he acted as an effective crisis manager supporting successive Chairmanships in an increasingly polarized environment. In the final months of his term, he dealt with the COVID-19 crisis, working to protect the health and safety of staff while ensuring that the OSCE continued to carry out its critical mandates and maintained business continuity.

Despite the highly polarized political climate, Ambassador Greminger promoted dialogue among the 57 OSCE participating States as one of his key priorities. He sparked informal discussions on emerging challenges and opportunities such as the importance of technology to all dimensions of security or the link between climate change and security.

He supported the OSCE in maintaining field presences to support participating States in implementing OSCE commitments, and preventing or managing conflicts – notably the Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine. He engaged in diplomatic efforts and supported those of various mediators addressing emerging and protracted conflicts in the OSCE area.

Ambassador Greminger promoted effective multilateralism by strengthening ties with the OSCE’s partners among international and regional organizations. He highlighted the OSCE’s contribution in helping participating States to implement the Sustainable Development Goals.

In his capacity as OSCE Chief Administrative Officer, Ambassador Greminger introduced a “fit for purpose” agenda focused on adapting the OSCE to changing realities and new opportunities against a background of limited and declining resources. This included a management review of the OSCE Secretariat that resulted in procedural and structural improvements, including by making the best use of technology. He also introduced an OSCE gender parity strategy and openly addressed sexual harassment and other challenges to creating a healthy and inclusive professional working environment. In view of his engagement, he was invited to join the International Gender Champions’ network.

Previously, Ambassador Greminger served as Deputy Director General of the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation at the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs. As Head of South Cooperation, he oversaw cooperation with 21 partner countries and regions, entailing an annual budget of USD 730 million and 900 staff in Bern and abroad. In this function, he regularly represented Switzerland at international conferences as State Secretary.

From 2010 to 2015, Ambassador Greminger served as the Permanent Representative of Switzerland to the OSCE, the United Nations and the International Organizations in Vienna. He was instrumental in devising the consecutive chairmanships and joint work plan of Switzerland (2014) and Serbia (2015). During the Swiss Chairmanship, he chaired the OSCE Permanent Council and played an active role in addressing the crisis in and around Ukraine that rapidly unfolded during the course of 2014. For the first time in years, the OSCE managed to achieve consensus on new OSCE operations – the most important being the Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine.

Ambassador Greminger was responsible for preparing the successful 2014 OSCE Ministerial Council in Basel, which yielded 21 consensus decisions and declarations. He chaired the OSCE Human Dimension Committee in 2011 and 2012. He introduced the structured agenda, substantive human dimension discussions as well as regular exchanges with OSCE institutions, field missions and UN mandate holders. As a member of the OSCE Troika, he chaired the OSCE Mediterranean Contact Group (2013) and the OSCE Asian Contact Group (2015).

Through his comprehensive expertise in security policy, Ambassador Greminger marked a number of important achievements in the OSCE: he contributed significantly to Ministerial Council Decision 3/11 on the conflict cycle, and the subsequent development of mediation and facilitation capacities in the OSCE Conflict Prevention Center.

During his term as Permanent Representative, Switzerland became the coordinator for the Vienna Document and introduced a number of modernization proposals. By strongly promoting partnership with the Geneva Centre for Democratic Control of Armed Forces (DCAF), he helped the OSCE Secretariat and field missions to build capacities in security sector governance and reform.

From 2004 to 2010, he served as Head of the Human Security Division of the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs. The Division is the Department’s main competence center for peace, human rights and humanitarian and migration policy, with an annual budget of around USD 70 million and 100 staff in Bern and abroad. During his tenure, the division offered and supported facilitation and mediation services to more than half a dozen peace processes worldwide (including in the Middle East, Colombia, Nepal, Burundi, Uganda and Sudan) and launched a number of important diplomatic initiatives, including those which led to the creation of the UN Human Rights Council, the UN International Tracing Instrument for SALW, and the Geneva Declaration on Armed Violence and Development.

Ambassador Greminger also served as Deputy Head of the Human Security Division from 2002 to 2004, and from 1999 to 2001 as Country Director at the Swiss Embassy in Maputo, Mozambique, where he managed Switzerland’s largest development cooperation programme with an annual budget of around USD 30 million and staff.

From 1994 to 1998, he served in different posts in the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation, including Head of the Policy and Research Unit.

Ambassador Greminger holds a PhD in history from the University of Zurich. He is Lieutenant Colonel GS (company and battalion commander of infantry unit of the Swiss Armed Forces; G6 and Deputy Chief of Staff of Infantry Brigade). He has authored numerous publications on military history, conflict management, peacekeeping, development and human rights. His mother tongue is German; he is fluent in English and French and has a good working knowledge of Portuguese. Ambassador Greminger was born in 1961 and has four daughters.