Tribute to Dame Margaret Anstee

Aug 26, 2016

Dame Margaret Anstee is a symbol of the best values ​​of the United Nations. Photo: United Nations

It is with great sadness that we learned of the passing of Dame Margaret Anstee, who enjoyed a long and distinguished career with UNDP.

Dame Margaret started her career as a lecturer at Queens University, Belfast, and then became one of the first women to be admitted to the British Foreign Service. She later served the United Nations for more than four decades from the early 1950s, primarily with UNDP. She was our Resident Representative in no fewer than eight different countries in Asia, Africa, and Latin America, including in Bolivia and Peru. From 1974 to 1987 she occupied senior positions at UN Headquarters in New York, including UNDP Deputy Regional Director for Latin America, Assistant Administrator for Programme Policy and Evaluation, and Assistant Secretary General in the Department of Technical Co-operation for Development. In 1987, Dame Margaret became the United Nations’ first woman Under-Secretary-General.

During her career, she participated in important initiatives for economic and social development which took her around the world to over 130 countries on official visits. She took on major responsibilities in a number of disaster relief operations in Bangladesh, the Mexican earthquake in 1985, the Chernobyl nuclear disaster, and others. She was involved in the design and implementation of several major reforms of the UN system, and was considered by many of her contemporaries as one of UNDP’s finest field officers.

Dame Margaret – who recently celebrated her ninetieth birthday – has long been considered one of the main characters in the UNDP story. She helped lead the ‘Capacity Study’, widely considered to be one of the most remarkable reports in the UN’s history. Comprehensive, visionary, and practical, the report – and Dame Margaret – helped set the direction for UNDP for the decades to come.

UNDP wishes to pay tribute to Dame Margaret’s outstanding and pioneering contribution to the Organization, to the UN, and to the world, and to express our sincere condolences to her family and friends on their loss.

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