15 NOVEMBER 2010


Amir Dossal always kept his cool - and a hint of a smile. He's always ready to work an effective workable arrangement if you are.

Whether pulling up his sleeves in the field, overlooking projects round a conference table, or hobnobbing in a black tie, the decent international civil servant with an Indian background has made his way up the leadership ladder the old fashioned way: he worked for it; he earned it. In budget matters, and at the Peacekeeping department, he gained the confidence of often conflicting friends by honestly exploring paths to agreement.

When Ted Turner made his offer of $1 billion to the U.N. during the time of his country's administration, the host country to the Organization had refused to pay its dues, and many thought it was just a crazy idea, a P.R. gimmick at most. When it took practical stages, several candidates were proposed to run it, control it, or guide its course. Eventually, the choice of Amir Dossal was accepted; by some who didn't know him well - hesitantly, others - enthusiastically. He made a remarkable impact. The Partnership Fund that he practically and transparently managed drew applause from all sides. Out of the $1 billion pledged in 1997, over $600 million has been actually spent. There may be questions on how the money was allocated and to whom. But there is no question that Amir Dossal did his best to navigate the Partnership during a very difficult period. In fact, there are now a number of additional contributors, almost reaching half of the initial commitment.

At a farewell or "graduation" dinner suitable for a really accomplished yet modest diplomatic star, he was given the 2010 Humanitarian Award by the U.N. Association of New York in a star-studded evening, led by Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, who made a jolly disarming speech. Amir was honoured "for his dedicated service to the United Nations and his extraordinary vision and commitment to partnerships with global initiatives." It was a mixed group of friends, associates, partners and colleagues. Some, like a number of international groups, have benefited from their association. Some, like us, who had no business dealing at all with the Fund but held the honoree with the highest regard since his much younger initial years. All expressed the hope that he will remain as Director Emeritus -- a title suitable for an Amir.