Oxford University Gazette

Encaenia 1998: Speeches by the Public Orator

Mme SADAKO OGATA

United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees

Quid tristius quam in exilium deportari? quid magis deplorandum quam solum vertere, bonis spoliari, patria et domo carere? quantopere pauperis illius miseremur quem depingit Horatius poeta:

                     pellitur paternos
         in sinu ferens deos 
      et uxor et vir sordidosque natos. 
sed tamen quid his temporibus usitatius? cottidie enim videmus homines omnium egenos in exilium proici, alios a vicinis suis, alios a magistratibus:

                                undique totis 
      usque adeo turbatur agris, 
ut cum alio poeta dicam. quorum hominum calamitate si quis non commovetur, ferreus esse debet. sed aliud est misericordia adfici, aliud homines egentes atque extorres cibo alere, vestibus amicire, auxilio alimentoque cumulare: quae omnia haec quam produco septem iam annos continuos dedita cura administrat. ad summum apud Nationes Consociatas locum omnium consensu provecta eorum agmen ducit qui exulantibus aerumnosisque opitulantur; quorum aerarium singulari incremento locupletavit, et quidem pecunia ultro libereque conlata, rationes autem excogitavit quibus istarum nationum cives sibi ipsis subvenire ac succurrere possint. feminam produco minime domisedam, quae cum bella intestina locosque periculosissimos saepe visitarit, a quibusdam Anicula loricata appellatur. ea autem effecit Ogata togata quae viri armati ac paludati efficere nullo modo possent. permulta alia sunt de quibus fusius loqui possem; gentis suae apud Nationes Consociatas diu legata erat cum de maximi momenti rebus agebatur; cathedram academicam obtinuit, libros luculentos conscripsit, nuper apud nos de officio suo praelectionem habuit saluberrimam.

Praesento miserorum auxilium, exulantium perfugium, iustitiae columen, totius orbis terrarum ministram excellentissimam, Sadako Ogata, ut admittatur honoris causa ad gradum Doctoris in Iure Civili.

Admission by the Chancellor

Femina praestantissima, quae de gente tua optime merita campum beneficentiae ampliorem petivisti, hominum universorum adiutrix exstitisti, ego auctoritate mea et totius Universitatis admitto te ad gradum Doctoris in Iure Civili honoris causa.

Paraphrase

What can be more tragic than to be forced into exile, to lose one's home and possessions, and to become a refugee? We must all feel pity for the sort of pathetic figure described by the poet Horace:

Clutching their household gods they take to flight,
Parents and children in dishevelled plight.

Yet in our time this one of the commonest of happenings. Every day we see people driven from their homes, either by their neighbours or by their governments, `so dreadful the confusion everywhere', to quote Virgil. One must have a heart of stone, not to be moved by these scenes. But it is one thing to feel sorry for refugees; it is a very different matter to feed them, clothe them, provide aid and look after them. That has been the work of Mme Ogata for seven years, since she was by general acclamation made United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and put in charge of its extensive range of programmes. She has been successful in greatly increasing its budget, all of which is voluntarily subscribed. She is not one to sit in an office. Her official appearances in many dangerous parts of the world have led to her being called the granny in a flak jacket; and she has often been able to achieve more than any number of heavily armed military men. There are many sides of her career on which I could dwell. She has represented her country at the United Nations; she has held a University chair and published distinguished books; not long ago she delivered a notable lecture in Oxford on the duties of her high office.

I present the defender of the destitute, the refuge of the homeless, the prop of justice, an outstanding servant of the world, Mme Sadako Ogata, for admission to the honorary degree of Doctor of Civil Law.

Admission by the Chancellor

You are a woman of pre-eminent fame, who after distinguished service in your own country have sought a larger scope and become a benefactor of the world. Acting on my own authority and that of the whole University, I admit you to the honorary degree of Doctor of Civil Law.

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