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Jean-Pierre Cabouat
Head of International Relations with the French Red Cross from 1990 to 2005

Jean-Pierre Cabouat
Head of International Relations with the French Red Cross from 1990 to 2005

This year, Groupe URD is celebrating its 20th anniversary. Could you introduce yourself and tell us about your dealings with Groupe URD?

I have known Groupe URD since its creation. It has been a pleasure and a privilege to meet and exchange points of view with its directors over the years, first as Head of International Relations with the French Red Cross, then as a member of the National Consultative Committee on Human Rights (Commission nationale consultative des droits de l’homme – CNCDH) and the “Enfants victimes du Tsunami de l’océan indien” collective. I have worked with them on many occasions and appreciate their open-mindedness, their professionalism and their practical activities in the field.

Do you have an anecdote you would like to share?

An anecdote? No, not really. I’d rather underline the very original image and profile of Groupe URD in the humanitarian family, in its work methods and in its permanent presence in the field. This presence does not seem to have reduced its independence in any way. It has managed to keep its freedom of judgement and experience in the different organizations and bodies where it is a member.

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

It conducts cross-sector projects without preconceived ideas or administrative complexity – which means it is able to approach and understand people and the problems of humanitarian action and reflection independently. It is able to be present in the field without giving up its freedom to act and reflect, and is therefore able to make an original contribution to the main debates about humanitarian action in France and internationally. This freedom of expression is an integral part of its reason for existing.

Groupe URD has managed to preserve this independence with obstinacy throughout the years and avoid being caught up in the administrative, bureaucratic, and political constraints and the recurring disputes which affect the French humanitarian family.

Unfortunately, I have never been able to go to the Fontaine des Marins to take part in the meetings and conferences that I have been invited to, but I have always felt admiration for these events. I obviously know about the role that François Grünewald has played in the creation and development of Groupe URD and the influence the organisation has within the humanitarian ‘planet’.

For this anniversary, I would like to extend my best wishes to the association, its staff and the remarkable place it occupies in French and international humanitarian action.