The United Nations Career Records Project (UNCRP)
The Project has been an ongoing initiative of BAFUNCS, in co-operation with the Bodleian Library of Oxford University, since 1989. It was begun by the late Richard Symonds, at that time based in St Antony’s College and with initial Ford Foundation support, and a first report was issued in 1992. By then 130 people who had been employed by the UN and its agencies, or served as UK representatives to the UN system, consultants or peacekeepers, had contributed relevant material for the use of students and researchers. The responses were received from names well known and unknown, women and men, spouses, and General Service as well as Professional staff. All contributions, which include many important papers (such as those of Sydney Dell, Sir Robert Jackson, George Ivan Smith and Dame Margaret Joan Anstee), are conserved for posterity in the Bodleian.
The contributions now number more than 500. To make the Project better known and facilitate researchers’ access to this material, a Guide to the Project has been published in 2017, in the main as an e-book. Simply clicking here will bring up the whole Guide: searching the Index of Keywords (pp. 135-140) for the topic of your interest will in turn bring up the related entry numbers where, under each entry, you can find a brief career summary and short description of the material the person has contributed to the Project. You can read of ‘Mohicans’ like Walter Hoffmann and Bill Tanzer; of the malariologist Jim Cullen’s conscious exposure of his arms and thighs to hungry mosquitoes; Colin Everard’s novels on air safety, based on his time with ICAO; Dame Iris Murdoch’s work for UNRRA; autobiographies by George Bishop, Duncan Forbes, Kenneth Sargent and Martin Barber among others; Brigadier Michael Harbottle’s proposals for peace-making roles for the world’s armies; Molly Bruce’s work with Eleanor Roosevelt for women’s and human rights.
Important new contributions are already in the pipeline and further inputs are sought from all former UN staff and their spouses (whether members of BAFUNCS or not), with a view to strengthening this unique record of the contribution of British citizens and others to the UN. The experiences of spouses, of administrative as well as specialist staff, headquarters as well as field, are all equally appreciated. Contributions may be in the form of completing the UNCRP Questionnaire; or a detailed curriculum vitae; and/or unpublished memoirs, papers, reports, manuscripts, letters or articles in any style, format or length. Photographs are welcome. Written inputs should if possible be submitted electronically, but hard copy material continues to be welcome.
Contributors may stipulate that their material be embargoed on the grounds of confidentiality for whatever period they wish. They and their descendants retain ownership and copyright of all material conserved.
Alternatively or in addition, oral interviews may be recorded by prior arrangement with the Project.
All those interested and able to contribute are invited to be in touch with the UNCRP Coordinator, Michael Askwith (email@example.com) who will send you, if necessary, a hard copy of the UNCRP questionnaire, together with Notes on completing it and Guidelines for contributions. The Notes and Guidelines, together with an interactive version of the Questionnaire, are also available here.
Some of the comments received on the Guide to the United Nations Career Records Project at the Bodleian Library of the University of Oxford:
… this terrific guide ... It does a great job of presenting the holdings in a lively and interesting way … Professor Sir Adam Roberts, Senior Research Fellow in International Relations, Balliol College, Oxford
… a tremendous job! Stephen Browne, Founder and Co-Director of the Future UN Development System (FUNDS) Project
… it will be invaluable to researchers. John Rodda, former Director, Hydrology and Water Resources Department of the World Meteorological Organization
… a huge amount of work and a great accomplishment. Sam Daws, Director of 3D Strategy Ltd and of the Project on UN Governance and Reform at the Centre for International Studies in the Department of Politics and International Relations at Oxford University
… this extremely ambitious work – no more a project but a masterpiece, a real opus, which will be able to stand on its own … in the Bodleian and other international standard libraries. David E. Smith, former Resident Co-ordinator for the UN Development Programme in Vietnam and elsewhere
… a stupendous work and a most valuable record of the work and contribution of UK staff to the United Nations project. Geoffrey Ward, former consultant to the World Bank and Adviser to ILO
… a most impressive achievement. I have already spent several fascinating hours reading about people in the UN system whom I have known or met, and will certainly go back to it again. Jack Martin, former Assistant Director General of ILO
It’s wonderful to see this great labour of love completed. Edward Mortimer, journalist and former chief speech writer to UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan
To complement the above, during the course of 2015-16 BAFUNCS and the Bodleian Library, in conjunction with King’s College London, All Souls College, Oxford, the United Nations Association (UNA), and the Institute of Development Studies (IDS) of the University of Sussex organized three Witness Seminars to commemorate the 70th Anniversary of the United Nations (UN@70), under the overall theme of “The United Nations and Global Governance”. These seminars aimed to highlight aspects of the UK’s contribution to the UN, as seen by those who participated in them, in three broad areas:
1. Development cooperation, held at the Institute of Development Studies (IDS) of the University of Sussex, Brighton from 13 to 14 May 2015;
2. Humanitarian support and complex emergencies, held at the new Weston Library of the Bodleian Library, Oxford on 16 October 2015;
3. Global governance, peace and security, held in London in January 2016, in commemoration of the 70th Anniversary of the first session of the UN Security Council at Church House, Westminster in January 1946.
Participants in WS2 at
All Souls College
These Seminars brought together former UN staff to share their recollections and experiences in the thematic areas as a contribution both to the UNCRP collection in the Bodleian Library as well as to learning lessons of experience which might be of use for future UN work. Selected participants were invited to prepare written contributions as a basis for discussion on the main themes highlighted. Recommendations were in some cases forwarded to government.
The three Witness Seminars gave rise to the preparation of an Institute of Development Studies (IDS) Evidence Report on “The UN at 70, and the UK: Development Cooperation, Humanitarian Action and Peace and Security – Lessons learned and policy recommendations” of 175 pages. This report, co-edited by Sir Richard Jolly and Michael Askwith, brought together articles by participants on themes drawn from the seminars. It was launched as an on-line publication, with hard copies, at an event in the House of Lords on 20 October 2016. Click here for access to the Evidence Report.
For information on the collections of Modern Political Papers held at the Bodleian, including the UNCRP, please see the link below:
Updated 15 March 2017