You are here: UNA-UK mourns former director Malcolm Harper

14 May 2013

UNA-UK was deeply saddened by the death of Malcolm Harper, who served as Director of the Association from 1982 to 2004.

The funeral service will be held on Thursday 23 May at 2pm at St Mary's Church, Charlbury OX7 3PX. (No flowers please)

A truly global citizen, Malcolm dedicated his life to the values of the UN Charter and the ultimate goal of the United Nations: achieving life in larger freedom for all the peoples of the world.

After studying at Cambridge, Malcolm worked for Oxfam from 1963 to 1981, where he served in the field in countries including Cambodia, Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda and Vietnam.

He continued to seek out activists and organisations from all corners of the globe during his time at UNA-UK. The Association's work on conflict prevention and peacebuilding took him to troubled regions, from Afghanistan to Somalia, where he met with UN and NGO staff, as well as local community representatives. He also gave over two decades of dedicated service to the Executive Committee of the World Federation of UNAs, which he chaired in 1995-2000.

Malcolm's priorities at UNA-UK were wide-ranging - a product of his compassion for vulnerable people and his commitment to working on the full spectrum of issues covered by the UN.

In his own account of his 22 years with the Association, he gave particular prominence to UNA-UK's work on arms control and disarmament, support for UNESCO after the UK's withdrawal from the body in 1985 (the UK re-joined in 1997), engaging local communities in the UN's sustainable development action plan Agenda 21 and campaigning for the International Criminal Court.

His directorship also coincided with the 40th and 50th anniversaries of the United Nations. On both occasions, he worked with a broad coalition of partners to put together activities that engaged everyone from the Queen and the Prime Minister to grassroots UNA-UK members and primary-school children.

Outside work, Malcolm stayed true to his mission of internationalism. He served as a Governor of International Students' House in London, Chair of the International Broadcasting Trust, and on the Board of Stakeholder Forum. The only contest between nations that he sanctioned was cricket.

Malcolm leaves behind Ann, his wife of 47 years, who was very much involved with the UNA Charlbury branch; daughters Clare and Kate; son Charles; and a two-year-old grandson.

A full UNA-UK tribute will be published shortly (see below for other tributes).

Messages of condolence for his family and tributes are currently being collected by UNA-UK. Please send these to Natalie Saad on

Malcolm Harper's personal reflections on his time at UNA-UK

World Federation of UNAs statement

Oxford Times tribute