Robert Muller, whose birth anniversary we mark on 11 March, devoted his life to the ideals of the United Nations, working both within the organization in which he became Assistant Secretary-General and in his talks and activities with many associations and conferences. As he wrote, his guideline was the pledge which all U.N. Secretariat members must sign when joining: “ I, Robert Muller, solemnly swear to exercise in all loyalty, discretion and conscience the functions entrusted to me as an international civil servant of the United Nations, to discharge these functions and to regulate my conduct with the interests of the United Nations only in view, and not to seek or accept instructions in regard to the performance of my duties from any government or other authority external to the organization.”
Muller joined the United Nations in 1948 with a doctorate in economics. Most of his U.N. work was related to socio-economic development in the States born with the end of Western European colonialism. As he wrote, “The human adventure on earth is taking world-wide proportions. We must be bracing ourselves for the staggering problems that lie ahead, and it is fortunate that we possess world-wide instruments at the precise moment of history and evolution when the human species enters its global age. Humanity is equipping itself slowly but surely with collective analytical tools, world-wide warning systems, and a network of feedbacks and monitoring. In other words – a kind of brain and nervous system… The United Nations has become a kind of incipient brain for the human species as a whole. It has taken stock of our planetary home and of our species, so that now we have a good inventory of our present as well as valuable appraisals of our potential futures… If something begins to go wrong on the global level, the United Nations can give a warning.”.
Robert Muller was particularly active in the preparation and follow up of a series of stocktaking U.N. conferences held especially in the 1970s:
1) World Conference on the Environment – Stockholm – 1972
2) World Food Conference – Rome -1974
3) World Conference on Population – Bucharest -1974
4) World Conference on Women – Mexico City – 1975
5) World Conference on Employment and Basic Needs – Geneva -1976
6) World Conference on Human Settlements – Vancouver – 1976
7) World Water Conference – Mar del Blata -1977
8) World Conference on Desertification – Nairobi – 1977
9) World Conference on Technical Cooperation among Developing Countries – Buenos Aires – 1978
10) World Conference on Land Reform – Rome – 1979
11) World Conference on Science and Technology – Vienna -1979
The 1970 Decade ended with the International Year of the Child. The Decade had also seen from 1974 to 1981 the World Conference on the Law of the Sea.
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