Peter Kuenstler was born in Hampstead in London in December 1919. He was educated at the Hall School 1926-1933, at Rugby School (classical scholarship) 1933-38, at Oriel College, Oxford (classical scholarship) 1938-40, and at Oxford House 1940-1948.
From 1948 to 1955 he was Research Fellow in Youth Work in the Institute of Education at Bristol University, during which time he was Director of Youth work training courses at the International People's College, Elsinore, Denmark, Consultant to British and American authorities in Germany, and a Consultant to the Governor of Uganda Protectorate (1953). From 1955 to 1964 he was Secretary of the African Development Trust in London, also lecturing part-time at the London School of Economics, and at Barnett House, the Department of Social and Administrative Studies at Oxford University. He also acted as UN Adviser on community development to the Government of Greece, and as Director of a course for Youth Officials from anglophone African countries for the German Foundation for Developing Countries, West Berlin.
From 1964 to 1979 Peter was a Social Affairs Officer with the United Nations. He was Interregional adviser on Youth (1965-7), Interagency Youth Liaison Officer (1967 to 1979) and Adviser to the Government of Botswana on youth and community development (1973-75).
In 1980 he was Visiting Professor at the School of Advanced Social Studies, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, in the United States, before becoming Secretary of a working party at the Gulbenkian Foundation, London (1980-82).
From 1982 to 1993 he was a Director of the Centre for Employment Initiatives (London and Brussels). Projects included the organization for the European Commission of over 30 consultations in different countries and evaluations of the Danish Volunteer Service and of British VSO.
In his last working years he led advisory missions to Romania, Hungary and Bulgaria for the EC from 1993 to 1996, and was Team leader for a World Bank mission on Social Welfare in Macedonia.
The Institute of Social Studies awarded its honorary doctorate to Peter Künstler in 1962.