Nansen Medal Award Ceremony: Presentation Speech by Dr. Auguste R. Lindt, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, on the occasion of the special posthumous award to Mr. Pierre Jacobsen
Mr. Chairman, Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is my sad privilege today to be authorised to make a second and special award - the award of a posthumous medal to the late Pierre Jacobsen.
The Nansen Medal Award Committee, when it met to consider the 1958 award, which it so appropriately decided should go to Mr. David Hoggett, felt that it would also like to pay tribute to the memory of another man who had made a most outstanding contribution to the cause of the refugees, and who had met his death most tragically last year when at the height of his activity. Pierre Jacobsen, who was killed in a motor accident in July 1957, as Deputy Director of the Intergovernmental Committee for European Migration and as assistant Director General of the International Refugee Organisation, had by his remarkably personal qualities, rendered great services to the cause of refugees.
Mr. Jacobsen, a French national of Danish origin, was a man of great academic achievements, and of outstanding services in the second world war. In 1945 he was nominated Inspector-General of the French Ministry for Prisoners, Deportees and Refugees, and it was in that capacity that his great gifts were first devoted to the service of refugees.
In 1947, he was invited to join the International Refugee Organisation and became assistant Director-General of that organisation. He was one of the principal architects of the concept of internationally planned migration, as it is known today, and it was under his leadership that over a million refugees were resettled under the auspices of the IRO.
Pierre Jacobsen took a leading part in the Brussels conference which resulted in the creation of the Intergovernmental Committee for European Migration, and became the Committee's Deputy Director when it began its operations in February 1952. In that capacity, Mr. Jacobsen helped to continue and broaden the work of planned resettlement, which under ICEM includes ordinary migrants as well as refugees.
From its origin however ICEM has continued to serve the interests of refugees. Indeed the co-operation between my Office and ICEM is particularly close, and was notably demonstrated at the time of the Hungarian exodus, when many thousands of refugees were rapidly and efficiently moved to over 30 European and overseas countries which offered them asylum, and in connexion with the joint action taken to bring about the resettlement of refugees of European origin in the Far East.
In all these activities Pierre Jacobsen showed outstanding energy and initiative, so that countless refugees who have been enabled to start a new life in a new country of resettlement have cause to be grateful to his devotion and brilliant capabilities. He was, in every sense, a truly remarkable man. It was with a sense of acute loss and tragedy that we learned of his untimely death.
I would now ask Mrs. Jacobsen, who has so kindly agreed to be with us today, to accept this special posthumous Nansen Medal as a tribute to the memory of her late husband, in whose loss we sympathize so deeply with her.