‘UN can save the world’ say veteran staffer, still passionate for peace at 90
He was one of the very first UN staff members, and 72 years on, Robert Kaminker is still advocating for peace and the power of the Organization to ultimately “save the world.”
Although he retired in the early 1980s, his enthusiasm for explaining how the UN works and how the world body can help people everywhere lead better lives, has never waned.
At 90, he is still hosting a weekly radio show in his native south-western France, called L’ONU vous concerne, or ‘The UN Matters.’
In it, he explains how the work of global agencies, impacts the daily lives of listeners in the rural community he serves, around the town of Périgueux.
He began his 36-year UN career, which spanned four continents, on the same day that the first ever UN General Assembly meeting took place, on January 10, 1946, in London.
That first job was in the French typing pool at the UN’s first but temporary home in the UK capital; but in a matter of months, he found himself on board an aircraft carrier, bound for the United States along with other members of that first generation of UN employees.
He’d lost Jewish relatives to the Nazi concentration camps during The Second World War, and that first UN job provided essential support for his family back in France, where severe rationing left millions in need.
In an interview for the UN News podcast series, The Lid Is On, Robert spoke to Matt Wells about the early pioneering years as the UN took shape, and to explain why he’s still tirelessly advocating on its behalf:
“The first few years, most of the people who worked alongside of me, were people who were absolutely convinced that the war that we had gone through, should never occur again, and that the UN was the hope.”