In his remarks, Mr Matsuura started by congratulating Mr Pierre Henquet on receiving the 2007 René Maheu International Civil Service Prize. This is the first occasion that this Prize is awarded to a former UNESCO staff member. The Director-General noted that Mr Henquet had made innumerable contributions to defend or promote the international civil service. This was the case when, in March 1977, the STA Executive Committee, led by Pierre Henquet, took up the case of Mr Sorin Dumitrescu, a Romanian national and Director of UNESCO’s office of Hydrology who was held against his will with his family in Romania. In this connection, Mr Matsuura paid “a heartfelt tribute to Mr Amadou-Mahtar M’Bow, the Director-General of UNESCO at the time, who played a primordial role in securing M Dumitrescu’s return to UNESCO”. He went on to say that “Mr M’Bow stood his ground against political interference and showed real leadership by putting his mandate on the line to defend the independence of the international civil service. He stressed, “It is an extraordinary lesson for all Executive Heads in the UN system, as valid today as it was then. And for Pierre Henquet, his role in this case as in many others should be an enormous source of pride”.
For Mr Matsuura, “the international civil service has a crucial role to play if the UN system is to fulfil its broad mandate. He noted that at UNESCO, he has “always stressed the importance of the Organization’s staff because, without them, the Organization does not exist. He added ‘the international civil servant is the guarantor of international institutions such as UNESCO, and through them of international cooperation”.
He concluded by stating that for international civil servants to continue to play such a role, certain of today’s realities must be confronted. He mentioned that the UN system must compete in a globalizing world with the private sector and other international and regional organizations for highly qualified staff. He called for a strong stand against improper conduct such as lobbying and stressed the need for the international civil servants to be guided by the principles and values enshrined in the UN Charter and the Standards of Conduct of the International Civil Service.
The award ceremony was presided by the Chairperson of the Jury, Anna Dumitrescu, with Mr Georges Kutukdjian, President of the Association of Former UNESCO Staff Members paying tribute to Mr Pierre Henquet before the latter gave his acceptance address.
Author(s): Office of the Spokeswoman - Source: Flash Info N° 192-2007 - Publication Date: 10-12-2007