EU ambassador bags top diplomat award
By Lovemore Ranga Mataire
HARARE – Despite the frosty relations between Zimbabwe and the European Union following the latter’s imposition of sanctions, EU Ambassador to Zimbabwe, Philippe Van Damme, bagged the 2017 diplomat of the year award at a recent ceremony.
Van Damme won the award at the sixth edition of the Diplomat of the Year Awards ceremony hosted under the theme “Promoting Economic and Social Inclusion”.
Speaking at the awards ceremony, guest of honour, UN Resident Coordinator, Bishow Parajuli, said the UN had recently successfully spearheaded the defined sustainable development agenda for the world for the next 15 years and facilitated binding climate action to protect the planet from the deadly effects of climate change.
“We need a system innovation to achieve the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which aims to uplift 1.2 billion people out of poverty, redeem 800 million from hunger, ensure access to quality education for 20 million children, achieve universal health coverage for all and inclusive growth and decent jobs for all,” Parajuli said.
He paid tribute to outstanding diplomats who died in line of duty, like the 2nd UN Secretary General, Dag Hammarskjöld, and former United Nations Special Representative in Iraq, Sergio Viera de Mellomany, and many other UN diplomats and officials who left loved ones and comfortable lives in the service of humanity in isolated remote areas and died in line of duty.
Hammarskjöld was a Swedish diplomat, economist, and author. He served from April 1953 until his death in a plane crash near Ndola, Zambia, in September 1961 while coming from the Congo where he was negotiating a truce between UN forces and Moïse Tshombe’s troops.
De Mellomany was a Brazilian United Nations diplomat, who worked for the UN for more than 34 years, earning respect and praise around the world for his efforts in the humanitarian and political programmes of the UN.
Other awards were won by Australian Ambassador Suzanne McCourt, who was named outstanding head of mission from Asia, Australia and Americas together with Ambassador of China Huang Ping, Cuba’s Elio Savon Oliva, and South Korean Ambassador Kwon Yong Kyu.
Van Damme, Ambassador of the Netherlands, Gera Sneller and Italian envoy Enrico De Agostini were winners as outstanding heads of missions from Europe.
In Africa, Ambassador of Egypt, Moayad-Fathallah-El-Dalie; South Africa’s Mphakama Mbete, Namibian Ambassador Balbina Daes Piennaar, and the Zambian Ambassador Ndiyoyi Mutiti were also honoured.
In the Middle East, Ambassador of Palestine to Zimbabwe Taghrid Senouar was named the winner.
Outstanding deputy ambassadors or first secretaries were also recognised for their work, with Fahad Alshatti of Kuwait and Chargé d’Affaires of Malaysia, Amarjit Singh Sarjit Singh named as winners.
Former president of Zambia, Dr David Kenneth Kaunda was recognised for a life time commitment and dedication to freedom of many countries in Africa through diplomacy.
According to the Zimbabwe Institute of Diplomacy, the convener of the awards, the selection and shortlisting of the nominees to the awards was done last year by the Diplomat Appreciation Trust (DAT).
The awards underscore the immense contribution diplomats make to world peace, security and development.
The work of diplomats and their protection is enshrined in the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations of 1961 as well as in Vienna Convention of Consular Relations of 1963.
Tribute was also paid to the founder of the Diplomat Association Trust Reginald Chapfunga for his dedication and immense contribution in recognising the work of diplomats in Zimbabwe.