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Curriculum vitae of Dr Jacques Diouf


Statement by the Director-General on the occasion of the presentation of the FAO Agricola Medal in memory of His Excellency Keizo Obuchi, former Prime Minister of Japan

Yokohama, Japan, 30 August 2000


Distinguished delegates,
Ladies and gentlemen,

It is a great pleasure and privilege for me to present this Agricola medal, the highest distinction of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, which is dedicated to the memory of the late Keizo Obuchi, former Prime Minister of Japan. By conferring this medal posthumously, FAO wishes to pay tribute to his life-long achievements in the promotion of global welfare and his unswerving support in the struggle against hunger and poverty.

When His Excellency Obuchi had accepted earlier this year to receive the Agricola medal, I had hoped that it would eventually be presented to him in person. Regrettably, the hand of fate that suddenly took him away from us prevents us on this day from expressing to him our appreciation for his invaluable contribution to the welfare of mankind. His presence is sorely missed. However, the spirit of his commitment to a more just and prosperous world lives on, etched not only in the hearts of the Japanese people but also in the minds of many throughout the world who shared with him the values and principles he advocated so relentlessly.

Keizo Obuchi was a visionary leader whose policies reflected his strong belief in human solidarity and respect for the environment. The tenets of his political philosophy were founded on a commitment to lead Japan to become a nation of "wealth and virtue". Upon assuming the highest office in the Government, he strove with wisdom and resolve to forge a new vision, one that would allow Japan to address the multitude of challenges confronting it in the third millennium, while building on the virtues and principles that had shaped its past. By engaging people in direct dialogue, he fostered a close link with the people and was able to thus create a vision for the Twenty-first century that sought to promote world peace and stability. In this respect, he believed that the wealth of the nation lay in its embrace of great aspirations, not only for its own society but also with regard to Japan's significant role within the international community.

To this end, His Excellency Obuchi devoted himself to the economic rebirth of Japan and actively pursued the reinforcement of international cooperation. One of the challenges that he believed had to be confronted was the "challenge for the globe". He was particularly concerned with the major burden being imposed on the global society and its environment as a result of mass production, mass consumption and mass waste. He acknowledged that hunger and malnutrition were an important facet of the challenge facing the globe and that the elimination of these scourges was vital if world peace and development were to be achieved. It was as a direct result of his initiative that the Human Security Fund of the United Nations was established to support projects, including those being implemented by FAO, aimed at enhancing food security in developing countries.

Keizo Obuchi was a passionate advocate of the commitments made at the World Food Summit that was held in Rome in 1996. He espoused the cause of fighting against hunger and malnutrition and played an active role in supporting the concerted efforts of the campaign to reduce by at least half the number of people suffering from hunger by the year 2015. The Agricola medal that has been struck in his memory appropriately bears the inscription "Food - Basic for Human Security", embodying thus the ethos of his everlasting conviction.

The kind offer made by the Japanese Government to host this 25th Session of the Regional Conference for Asia and the Pacific here in Yokahama is a reflection of Japan's endorsement of these ideals and the legacy left by His Excellency Obuchi to continue the struggle of ensuring Food for All.

In the presence of the representatives of all the Asian and Pacific Member Nations, I wish to reiterate, on behalf of FAO and my own behalf, our sincere condolences to the family of His Excellency Keizo Obuchi and to the people of Japan for the loss of a distinguished man and a leader of our times. Keizo Obuchi's invaluable contribution to mankind will long be remembered.



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