New York

29 October 2019

Secretary-General’s statement on the death of Sadako Ogata

I am deeply saddened by the death of Sadako Ogata, former United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, humanitarian and role model for people across the world.
Sadako Ogata set the standard for helping refugees: principled, compassionate, effective.  She was fearless in her advocacy for people, humanitarian action and political solutions.  As the first woman to serve as High Commissioner for Refugees, she was a pioneer in highlighting not only the impact of violence on women but the imperative of women’s involvement in solutions.  Her contributions continued long after her service as High Commissioner, in particular in articulating the concept of human security.
Sadako Ogata left a unique legacy and imprint on the UN Refugee Agency, as I witnessed upon assuming leadership of UNHCR a few years later.  Many millions of people enjoy better lives and opportunities thanks to her solidarity and skillful work on their behalf.  And the many people today who have been forcibly displaced from their countries and homes are better served because of her achievements. 
I am grateful to have known Sadako Ogata as both colleague and friend, and I offer condolences to her family, to the people and Government of Japan, and to her many admirers around the world.