Saturday, 22 September 2007

People who knew Henrik

During the past few weeks I have got the names of people who knew Henrik Beer. If you read this, I would really appreciate a contribution from you.
Uno Mellåker:
Nils Arvid Jonasson
Mr Ola Grundin
Birgitta Bertmar
Gunnar Siegel
Björn Runberg
Ragnar Boll
Elisabeth Widman
Claes Göran Landergren
Ragnar Boll
Fredrik Gladh,

Tuesday, 4 September 2007

The winds of change, Algerian Refugees in Tunisia

".....the indispensable transmission belt between the international interest stimulated by our office....and measures of practical aid in the field......

The United Nations connection made substantial government fund available for League operations - with both beneficial and detrimental effects. On the one hand, Beer had the money to recruit field staff quickly. On the other, there was little additional finance to cover the increased workload in the Secretariat and the field personnel could be retained only so long as the UN grants continued. Therefore a period of rapid expansion commenced, followed by sudden retraction, a pattern that was to characterize the League for many years. The long-term view was that capacity must be built up in the newly emergent National Societies, but for that - unlike emergency operations - the money was always tight. Decolonization could be a protracted and bitter business, as in Algeria." (Beyond Conflict: The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, 1919-1994, Daphne A. Reid and Patrick F. Gilbo)

UNHCR reports to General Assemby, New York 1962

"Mr. Henrik Beer, Secretary-General of the League of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, confirmed the High commissioner's announcement that the League would continue the relief operation on the understanding that the necessary contributions would be forthcoming from governmental sources. The League, for its part, had appealed to each of its national Red Cross, Red Crescent and Red Lion and Sun Societies to support the action of its Board of Governors to intensify gifts in cash and in kind to maintain the present level of relief provided to nearly 300,000 refugees without means of livelihood in the asylum countries of Morocco and Tunisia."

The term "NGO" - Henrik Beer, advisor to UNEP

"Henrik Beer, advisor to UNEP Executive Director on NGOs has stated that : 'There is no NGO community as such. The NGO world is composed of-many different elements - some are purely technically NGOs - they are composed of communities, for instance, or specific parts of the community, and are therefore more governmental than non-governmental. Others are specialist, scientific or professional organisations, others major popular organisations of different kinds with the environmental issue as a side line. One should therefore beware of speaking of NGOs' opinions, NGOs' possibilities as unified factors, they are as varied as humanity itself '. Some organisations of great relevance to UNEP's work find the description difficult to understand, especially as applying to them. Some social scientists have arrived at a consensus as to what is meant by NGO. It is :
1) privately (rather than publicly) established
2) not-for-profit,
3) voluntary membership participation."

125th Anniversary of the International Review of the Red Cross

"Between 1948 and 1967, the National Societies grew in number from 65 to 106. The Movement enjoyed a spectacular expansion, owing mainly to the newly-won independence of many African, Asian and Caribbean countries. This created new responsibilities, for a new Society cannot simply be set up; it must still develop into a functional organization. In 1961, the League's Red Cross Development Programme was introduced for the purpose of organizing the National Societies as a force to provide relief and assistance to the population; a force that drew its strength from the participation of individuals whose activities were geared to the specific needs of each country.As Henrik Beer, a former League Secretary General, wrote: "This new dynamic Red Cross must be carried forward on the impetus of new principles. It resolutely turns its back on paternalism, which has been superseded by fellowship and full team spirit. It is this which is the originality of the League's mission. At the same time, under the drive and impetus of a spirit of understanding and harmony, it has undertaken the challenging task of weaving a vast network of technical cooperation in the most widely varying fields"."

Everywhere for everyone...

"in 1969, the League celebrated its fiftieth birthday. With 112 members around the world, it was conscious of - but largely comfortable with - its increasing spread and diversity. Nonetheless, it entered a period of introspection.
The demands of disaster and war were heavier than ever, with appeals being issued by the Secretariat every three weeks throughout the 1970s. Even as staff struggled to cope with unprecedented numbers of victims in Africa, South-East Asia and the Middle East, new members of the League were demanding more attention. In particular, they wanted more resources devoted to development.
In Geneva, Secretary General Beer stated bluntly that all the plans and policy statements would amount to no more than 'wishful thinking' unless the League balanced its objectives with its money. Was it not possible that the organisation was trying to do too much?
In 1973, the movement commissioned 'The Big Study', an external report, by Canadian Donald Tansley, on its strengths and weaknesses. He concluded that it should concentrate on the core activity of protection and assistance in war and disasters and downgrade many of the other programmes that had grown up over the years. It should also break away from its 'charity' approach to humanitarian work.
The report was received with mixed feelings. In particular, its proposals for a more central role for the Geneva institutions were seen as a threat to the jealously guarded autonomy of National Societies - and to many of their main programmes.
While the League constitutions was amended, to ensure a fair geographical distribution of its members, daily work at local, national and international level continued much as before. On balance, the movement agreed with the parts of Dr. Tansley's diagnosis but it did not like the prospect of the slimming treatment he prescribed. Consequently, in 1980, the organisation launched the new decade with a new slogan. It was: 'Everywhere for everyone'." (Beyond Conflict: The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, 1919-1994 - Daphne A. Reid and Patrick F. Gilbo)

Monday, 3 September 2007

Bourgeois d'honneur de Genève, Geneva July 1982

(Henrik Beer was honoured by Geneva in July 1982 with the title of Bourgeois d'honneur de Gèneve-the third person to receive this award during the previous three decades) "Au cours des dernières décennies, la bourgeoisie d’honneur a été accordée à des personnalités ayant oeuvre au sein des organizations internationals à Genève, en signe de reconnaissance de leurs importants mérites et de gratitude à leur contribution à la renommée de notre canton. C’est ainsi que la bourgeoisie d’honneur a notamment été conférée au Prince Sadruddin Aga Khan, Haut Commissaire des Nations Unies pour les Réfugiés en 1978, à Monsieur Henrik Beer, secrétaire général de la ligue des sociétes de la Croix-Rouge en 1982, au Dr. Halfdan Mahler, ancient directeur de l’Organisation Mondiale de la Santé en 1989, à Monsieur Francis Blanchard, ancient directeur général de l’Organisation internationale du travail en 1989 toujours, à Monsieur Pekka Johannes Tarjanne, ancient secrétaire général de l’Union Internationale del Télécommunications (ci-après UIT), et à son épouse en 1999, à Monsieur Kofi Annan, secrétaire général des Nations Unies, en 2002, et en 2003, à titre posthume, à Monsieur Sergio Viera de Mello, représentant special du Secrétaire général des Nations Unies en Irak et Haut Commissaire des Nations Unies aux de l’homme, décédé en fonction." (

Eurovision song contest 1981

"Not all the funds raised in the selling of this monumental testiment to our musical heritage will fall into the pockets of Polydor. By buying this record you will be, to quote the back cover message of Henrik Beer (yes!), general secretary of the Red Cross, “helping the Red Cross carry out its work for humanity and peace. We thank you for your support.”

Well, thank you Henrik and here's to the next twenty-five years (glasses raised and drained, records flung into the fireplace). " (The Mick Sinclair archives

Henrik Beer in North Vietnam, May 1969

(Henrik Beer visited Hanoi in May 1969, League Secreatary General was welcomed by Dr. Vu Dinh Tung, President of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam Red Cross)
"The league delegation fullfilled two tasks: coordinating the arrival of supplies and medical personnel from donor societies, and working with the Red Cross in South Vietnam to develop its operational capacity. Over 200 milk stations were established for young children, and substantial quantities of rice, fish and clothing distributed to the civilian population. In addition, a brand new centre for amputees was opened in Saigon, with the support of the American, British, French and the Netherlands National Socities. In May 1969, Henrik Beer was invited to North Vietnam-the first visit by a senior official of the League-and saw the National Society's extensive shopping list-medicaments, blankets, first aid kits, vehicles, administrative supplies-which was then circulated to potential donors. Stressing that both Vietnam societies were members of the League, he said that the secretariat's job was 'to accelerate their development' and he predicted that there would be 'greater scope for Red Cross action during the post-war period'."-(Beyond Conflict The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, 1919-1994-Daphne A. Reid, Patrick F. Gilbo)

Sunday, 2 September 2007

The Road to Hanoi (1958-1975)

"The evolution of the UNICEF mission in Viet Nam and all its protracted efforts must also testify to the single-mindedness of a number of determined people. Great names seem to frame the history of the great efforts made to bring this all about. There were, for a start, Spurgeone Milton Keeny and Margaret Gaan, Sir Ralph Richardson, Dr. Arthur E. Brown, Newton Bowles, Maurice Pate, Henry Labouisse, Henrik Beer, Dr. Boguslav Kozusznik, Edward Iwaskiewicz, Brian Jones and James P. Grant. There was the Indochina Peninsula Liaison Group, with Martin Sandberg, Jacques Beaumont, Dr. Charles Egger and Hasse Gaegner. There were their Vietnamese colleagues and counterparts, including Nguyen Co Thach, Pham Van Dong, Nguyen Tinh, Vo Van Sung, Madame Nguyen Thi Binh, Pham Minh Hac and Vu Van Mau. And there were various organizations, including the highly regarded Mother and Child Protection Committee, and titles such as the Republic of Viet Nam and the Provisional Revolutionary Government and the Democratic Republic of Viet Nam that have passed into the history they helped create."