Thursday, 30 August 2007

Henrik Beer's CV

The CV of Henrik Beer that was provided to the delegates of the 1959 Board of Governors meeting.

Wednesday, 29 August 2007

Biafra - A quote from Henrik Beer

Monday, Feb. 02, 1970 Time Magazine

Relief, Reconciliation, Reconstruction
THE lights came on again in Lagos last week, ending a 30-month blackout imposed to protect the Nigerian capital from Biafran bombers that never appeared. Unaccustomed to the brightness, bats swooped screeching out of trees to seek darkness elsewhere, and pedestrians stepped neatly over rain ditches they had fallen into during the war. Only half the lights went on again, however; there was not enough power available to light the rest. Plainly, peacetime conditions would not be restored with the mere flick of a switch.
Building Up Jerusalem. That was all too evident in the area of what had been Biafra, where 12 million people had sought to establish a state independent of Nigeria and its 45 million other inhabitants. Nigerian Leader Yakubu Gowon had pledged his victorious government to a program of reconciliation rather than recrimination toward the secessionists. Because of ineptitude and the war's unexpectedly sudden end, which caught relief agencies unprepared, Gowon's peace program flicked on only at half strength. Feeding programs broke down, medical supplies went undelivered and there were countless incidents of rape and looting.
No evidence could be seen of the deliberate genocide against which Biafra's General Odumegwu Ojukwu had warned before he hastily departed from his collapsing nation three weeks ago. Nigerian leaders, for the most part, made genuine efforts to see that Biafra's Ibo tribesmen were cared for. Nigerian money was rushed in to replace worthless Biafran currency, Ibo civil servants were rehired and their 30-month defection listed as "leave of absence without pay." Gowon, wearing a flowing blue African robe instead of a general's uniform, led a thanksgiving service at Lagos' Anglican cathedral. He selected and read the lesson of the service from the second chapter of Nehemiah: "Then I said unto them, ye see the distress that we are in, how Jerusalem lieth waste, and the gates thereof are burned with fire. Come and let us build up the wall of Jerusalem that we be no more a reproach."
Foreign observers, after cursory checks of Gowon's Jerusalem, returned to Lagos with airily optimistic progress reports. United Nations Secretary-General U Thant, after two days in Lagos and none in Biafra, said unqualifiedly that "there is no hint, even the remotest evidence of violence by the Nigerian Federal forces." Henrik Beer, secretary general of the League of Red Cross Societies in Geneva, doubted that there had ever been wholesale starvation in Biafra. But hunger remained a very real threat. Gowon adamantly refused to let relief groups use Uli airstrip, a symbol of Biafran resistance. One result of his decision was that many of the 3,500,000 people in Biafra were going hun gry. According to some estimates by churchmen and physicians, as many as 1,000,000 Biafrans were on the verge of starvation. Ignoring pleas to stay put, perhaps 1,000,000 refugees choked the enclave's wreckage-strewn roads.

Thursday, 23 August 2007

An article quoting Henrik Beer

31-08-1995 International Review of the Red Cross no 307, p.447-468 by Jacques Meurant
The 125th Anniversary of the International Review of the Red Cross - A Faithful Record -
III. The International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement: solidarity and unity

Jacques Meurant was Special Adviser to Henrik Beer, Secretary General of the League of Red Cross Societies, then Adviser on statutory matters and later Director of the Henry Dunant Institute before taking up his current position as Editor of the International Review of the Red Cross in 1986.

3. Solidarity and development

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".

Extracts from Henrik Beer's biodata in 1960

From the League of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (LORCS) Monthly News and Report vol. II no. 10 October 1960

Henrik Beer was 44 years old in 1960, married with three children.
Graduate of Stockholm University with a BA and an MA in political science.
Started his association with the Red Cross as a consultant to the Swedish Red Cross in 1944.
Secretary General of Swedish Red Cross 1947 to 1960
Responsible for organising the 17th International Red Cross Conferennce in Stockholm in 1948.
On mission in Vienna in November 1956 to plan and prepare the League's relief operation re: Hungarian refugees in Austria
Directed the League's first International Study Centre, in Geneva from June 10-20, 1960, for leaders of National Societies in the Near East, North Africa and Africa.
Secretary General of the League from October 1960 to November 1981 (Note: he was elected to the position of Secretary General by a vote of the National Society delegates to the 1959 Board of Governors meeting - the delegates had a choice of two candidates to vote for).

Tuesday, 21 August 2007

Encouraging feedback from Japanese Red Cross

Many thanks for your invitation to your new initiative. As for possible his contribution, I will talk to Konoe-san on your behalf. I am sure there are many photos during Henrik's visit to Kyoto and Tokyo after Manila Conference in 1981. I returned home in August 1981, and received Henrik at the Osaka International Airport upon his arrival, and escourted him on his tour to Kyoto and Tokyo. As far as I know, the entire photo library at the NHQs are being degitally transformed. I will ask my friends for their progress. As soon as some photos be available, I will make necessary steps.


Henrik Beer with New Zealand Red Cross reps - 1964

Two New Zealand delegates, Mr Colin McLennan, National Secretary of the New Zealand Red Cross since 1960 and Miss Janet Studholme, Director of the New Zealand Junior Red Cross since 1953, attended the South East Asia Red Cross Forum in Sydney - Miss Janet Studholme and Mr Colin McLennan with Mr Henrik Beer (centre), Secretary-General of the League of Red Cross Societies in Geneva

Hekrik Beer in Australia - 1964

Malaysian delegates to the South East Asia Red Cross Forum in Sydney (from right) Mr Francis A Xavier, Headquarters Training Officer; Raja Ahmad, Director of the Johore branch; and Mr N S Leow from the Headquarters Training Team, Chinese Section. Pictured with them at the University of Sydney, Forum Headquarters are (from left) Mr Henrik Beer, Secretary-General of the League of Red Cross Societies in Geneva and Mr Kingsley Seevaratnum, Organiser of the Development Programme, also from the League

Thursday, 16 August 2007

1956 - Henrik Beer's involvement in the Hungarian operation

Hungarian refugees crossing into Austria-1956

1956 was a pivotal year in post war history. It marked the end of a global system which had endured more or less unchanged since 1919, and it set a pattern which was to continue until the fall of the Berlin Wall and the collapse of the Soviet Union 30 years later. The crushing of the Hungarian uprising showed that the USSR was determined to force its role as a world power.
This shift in global politics saw the Red Cross movement involved in man made disasters: hundreds of thousands of refugees from the Congo, Hungary, the Indian sub-continent, and an expanded Israel and Vietnam.

Henrik Beer was to be a crucial player in his role as Secretary General of the Swedish Red Cross. On the morning of 27 October 1956, Radio Budapest reported that fighting had broken out and the Hungarian Red Cross were seeking medical supplies. The ICRC responded quickly and by early the next day succeeded in getting a Swiss relief plane with medical supplies and delegates, and continued this shuttle service until the airport was closed on 1 November The League of Red Cross Societies set up an office in Vienna's Hotel Wandl, opposite the Austrian Red Cross.

Henrik Beer was the League's chief delegate and worked night and day during the rapidly evolving first stage. The Hungarian operation fell into two phases. First there was the brief, but bloody,period of fighting. Second there was a massive exodus of refugees from the country into Austria and Yugoslavia. Thirty thousands tonnes of medical supplies,food, fuel and household supplies were sent regularly by road and Danube barges, into Hungary. Henrik Beer played a pivotal role in coordinating the League's relief operation (Thanks to Beyond Conflict The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, 1919-1994. Reid and Gilbo. IFRC 1997)


It must have been 1974, when I was working in Vietnam, that I heard Henrik Beer was visiting New Zealand. At that juncture in history, New Zealand was listed as second in the World in beer consumption, just a tad behind Denmark.

Henrik Beer's visit to New Zealand was a resounding success after productive meetings with the Minister of Foreign Affairs, meeting volunteers and the staff at HQ of the New Zealand Red Cross, and reaching out to beneficiaries of New Zealand Red Cross programmes.

Some months after he left, I received the monthly edition of the New Zealand Red Cross News with the headlines WE WANT MORE BEER

And the New Zealand Red Cross indeed got more of Henrik Beer through his constant leadership, guidance and the deep interest he took in our national society. Many of us who knew Henrik Beer, came to work for him in Geneva and in the field, and we couldn't get enough of Henrik. Henrik Beer.

Wednesday, 15 August 2007

Henrik Beer in New York, 20 January 1962

League Chairman John McAulay (right), Secretary General Henrik Beer (left) and UN Secretary General U Thant in New York 20 January 1962

Quote from Henrik Beer

An extract from the paper Significance of the World Network of Organisations by Alexander Szali. The Future of International Organisation, New York, UNITAR, 1970

This is clearly recognized in one field as shown by the following extract from a speech by Henrik Beer, Secretary General of the League of Red Cross Societies, at the 15th International Conference on Social Welfare:

One of the most important trends in the field of international voluntary service in recent years has been the recognition that social development cannot be pried loose from economic and political development and that the work of volunteer organizations cannot be isolated from other aspects of social work Prognostics for voluntary service must be seen as part of a whole. It is already outmoded to look on community social services as an entity in itself: it is part of a socio-economic whole...

Henrik Beer - Secretary General of the League of Red Cross Societies. 1960-1981