Madeleine Allbright passed away in Washington DC on 23 March 2022. Her passing is a great personal loss for all those who have known her personally, and for the institutions and causes she worked so hard for all through her long, and dynamic life.
I met her for the very first time during the International Visitors Program that NDI , the National Democratic Institute, had organised in the framework of the Democratic Convention in Chicago in 1993, if my memory serves me right. At the time, she was the US Permanent Representaive to the UN, the first woman to hold this very senior diplomatic position. I vividly remember how direct she was, sometimes almost cuttingly frank, in the Q&A on foreign policy. It also quickly become clear that she didn’t take fools lightly.
All through her hard work as Permanent Representative to the UN, and then as Secretary of State, she never lost sight of the issues closest to her heart: women’s rights as essential components of human rights (and not as mere afterthoughts); democracy as an indispensable precondition to human welfare the world over and not as a western import.
During her tenure and after that, she worked relentlessly for the advancement of those causes.
I had the honour of being invited to participate at the launch of the Win with Women project and we used that framework in the Liberal International to organise seminars on the advancement of the political participation of women in Europe, in Central America, in Africa and Asia, assessing time and again that the road would still be long.
Madeleine Albright however remained the constant inspiration.
As I said, she could be severe: she was disappointed by the slow pace of European unification and said so, but she was equally dismayed (to put it mildly) by some developments in the foreign policy of her country of choice which she so passionately served, and she also said so.
She taught me some invaluable lessons, which I’ll continue to hold dear but above all, I will remember her as a most remarkable and honourable human being.
Minister of State
President of Honour, Liberal International