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Caroline Grandjean
Deputy Director of the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ Crisis Centre for humanitarian issues

Caroline Grandjean
Deputy Director of the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ Crisis Centre for humanitarian issues

Groupe URD is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year. Could you introduce yourself and tell us about your dealings with Groupe URD in the past?

I worked for the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs from 1993 to 2013 and I was drawn to positions connected to humanitarian action and related issues from 2003 to 2013. I have got to know Groupe URD since 2003 when it was celebrating its 10th anniversary.

Can you describe Groupe URD briefly/in a word?

I would say that it is a group that is led by a motivated team, based on in-depth and accurate knowledge of the field which is used to analyse the issues which affect the humanitarian field.

What is your perception of Groupe URD? How do you perceive its role, its positioning and its specific characteristics?

It is an atypical organisation, which, in addition to its technical and even scientific competencies, is very good at keeping up to date with new developments and is very good at communication. In my experience, the organisation is based mainly on the two main directors who complement each other perfectly. I think Groupe URD was envied by both NGOs and academics as it was able to position itself at the crossroads between these two worlds; but I think it has gone beyond these rivalries nowadays.

Do you have any anecdotes to share with us?

I have several…

  • In 2004/2005, Groupe URD had perfectly understood the European Union’s enthusiasm for evaluation, due to growing Anglo-Saxon influence. They then made some perfectly pertinent points about this issue at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ Humanitarian Action Delegation where I was the Deputy Director at the time. This allowed the French delegation to shine in Brussels, to the surprise of our partners who thought that France were recalcitrant about this discipline.
  • Another international memory is a presentation that François Grünewald made in English in Geneva for the British Delegation concerning a study carried out in Chad. I was a little upset about his apparent indifference to French-speaking countries, but nevertheless proud of the little frenchie.
  • Another memory is of Véronique de Geoffroy at the National Humanitarian Conference in November 2011, which was organised by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ Crisis Centre, with substantial help from Groupe URD. She had the difficult task of summarising the debates at the end and did such a good job that she seemed to seduce the Minister, Alain Juppé, himself.

How do you see Groupe URD in the future? What are your wishes for the future?

Definitely European and international. I can see it as a kind of advisory group, providing, as it does now, potentially innovative answers to new and traditional questions which come up, and also occupying a role as a mediator between different humanitarian actors (states, UN and European agencies, NGOs, foundations and universities).