I met Jeff at a United Nations Association meeting in Central London in the early 1980s, not long after his return from SSD1 (1st GA Special Session on Disarmament) an inspiring global summit. Jeff was convinced the UN’s objectives could never be met until “We, the peoples” were formally included in the UN system. As long as only the governments of the member states took the decisions, their competing national interests and jealous protection of their national sovereignty would prevent them doing what’s necessary to achieve Peace and all it implies (security, justice, respect for human rights, decent living standards, political freedom and more (eg Article 55). World Peace was Jeff’s objective, and he believed it was achievable through a democratically reformed United Nations.
I was among the people following Jeff’s lead on this journey from then on. He came up with many initiatives and proposals over the years – I’ll name the main ones: first INFUSA (International Network for a UN Second Assembly) – 1983-1990; then CAMDUN – at first Conferences for a More Democratic UN and later Campaign for... In 1995, inspired by a proposal in the report of the Commission on Global Governance, we took up the idea of a World Civil Society Forum. Another organisation, UNGA-Link UK, was launched in 1998 to work for a World Civil Society Forum. Jeff was Chair of UNGA-Link until 2004 when I took over. From December 2003, UNGA-Link was formally Associated with the UN Department of Public Information along with about 1500 other organisations worldwide. In 2007, members agreed to dissolve UNGA-Link as an autonomous organisation and we now function as a voluntary network of members of the United Nations Association with the special interest in UN-Civil Society Relations.
You can imagine the amount of time and energy Jeff spent on all that planning, organising, networking with people, keeping up with events, thinking, writing and re-writing proposals. Until 2004, he had the invaluable support of Elizabeth in all that work. 2004 was, of course, a very sad year for Jeff and Elizabeth, with her illness and her death in December.
Jeff made many friends and has many admirers – some in high places - who valued what he promoted with such passion: world peace through a democratically reformed United Nations. I’d like to share with you a few of their responses to the news of his death:
Dame Laurie Salas (New Zealand) “I met Jeff and Elizabeth at a CAMDUN conference and always admired and respected Jeff’s stalwart work for peace ... His unfailing courage and outspokenness for a just and peaceful world were an inspiration to all who knew him. He will be remembered with affection and admiration by many, many people for his integrity and example, and his spoken and written words.”
Sam Daws (Executive Director of the United Nations Association): “Jeffrey has been such a dedicated supporter of the UN and UNA-UK, and a passionate advocate of reform to strengthen the Organisation.”
Colin Archer (Secretary-General, International Peace Bureau): Jeff was a firm supporter of the IPB, indeed one of those who actually paid his fees on a regular basis! He was nothing if not dedicated in his determination to see a better and restructured UN. Sad he didn’t live to see much progress in that area.
Alison Harvey (Community Networks International) wonders how “this little man with stern but twinkling eyes and a global vision could have achieved so much”
Keith Hindell (Chair of the WCSF UK Support Group) concluded “Jeffrey Segall punched well above his weight. The time for a WCSF will surely come and when it does Jeffrey’s name should be carved on the base as one of the founders.”
Alison Williams (Co-ordinator, UNGA-Link UK)