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Gerrit Jan van Heuven Goedhart

Peace is a state in which no people of any country, in fact no group of people of any kind, lives in fear or in need.

Before becoming the first High Commissioner, Gerrit van Heuven Goedhart was a lawyer and a journalist. He was also active in the Dutch resistance and its government-in-exile in London during the Second World War.

At UNHCR, van Heuven Goedhart put much of his energy into securing funds for the estimated 2.2 million refugees still displaced after 1945. He shifted the focus of our work from resettlement abroad to local integration within Europe, and his achievements on behalf of refugees were acknowledged in 1954, when UNHCR was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. By the time of his sudden death in 1956, we were well placed to begin over 65 years of work protecting refugees across the world.