Statement by UNFPA Executive Director Dr. Natalia Kanem on the passing of former Secretary-General Javier Pérez de Cuellar

5 March 2020

I am deeply saddened to learn of the death of former Secretary-General Javier Pérez de Cuellar.

Throughout his long and distinguished career, he embodied the highest ideals and values of the United Nations. As Secretary-General, he was a staunch advocate of multilateralism and a skillful diplomat and peacebuilder during a turbulent decade.

He understood that the advancement of women goes hand in hand with the advancement of peace and was committed to advancing women’s leadership within the United Nations system. In 1987, he appointed Dr. Nafis Sadik Executive Director of UNFPA – the first woman to lead a UN agency.

The first and only Secretary-General from Latin America, Javier Pérez de Cuellar was an inspiration to many in the Latin American region and around the globe.

On behalf of all of us at UNFPA, I extend my sincere condolences to Mr. Pérez de Cuellar’s family, the Government and people of Peru, and all those around the world mourning his loss.

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