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The ex-diplomat Raimundo Pérez-Hernández gives a session to the students of Degree at Philosophy, Política y Economics (PPE)

He has shared his more than 30 years of experience in the world of diplomacy and foreign affairs. International Office

FotoManuelCastells/Raimundo Pérez-Hernández during the meeting

23 | 02 | 2022

"The most important thing about being a diplomat is service to the State and, therefore, to its citizens". This is what former diplomat Raimundo Pérez-Hernández said at the University of Navarra in a meeting that he held with the students of the Degree in Philosophy, Politics and Economics (PPE). The session, which was chaired by Julia Pavón, dean of the School of Philosophy y Letras, was also attended by students of History, International Office and Law.

Director of the Ramón Areces Foundation since 2008, Pérez-Hernández shared with the audience his career of more than three decades in the diplomatic degree program , "one of the few that still offers a sense of adventure". During this time, as he explained, "the world of diplomacy has changed a lot. With Spain's accession to the European Union, for example, entrance , we have lost a certain amount of freedom; we have certain obligations that must be complied with". In response to this, he said that "diplomatic life fills you up, rewards you and gives you unique experiences. But, above all, it allowsyou to defend the interests of your country and its citizens in a world where private interests rule". After a period in Equatorial Guinea, "where I experienced combat diplomacy, far from caviar canapés, and where I saw misery in its purest state", he moved to France as Economic and Commercial Counsellor at the Spanish Embassy there. "I went from visiting leper colonies to selling Spanish wine and shoes, at a time when economic diplomacy was all about exports.

In his speech, he also shared some anecdotes from his time in the government of Felipe González, as head of protocol of the Presidency of the Government, with the rank of Director General. "During that time I learned the importance of coordination in Spain, a country with many mini-centres of power, where single command centres are important". He also explained that the golden rule of a good civil servant is that "you have to be neutral on political issues, to exercise your work as a committed spectator. I don't belong to any political party and that makes them trust you, because a diplomat owes his or her government, even if you don't agree with agreement on everything". Before entering the private sector, "for professional, family and economic reasons", Pérez-Hernández was also President of the Executive committee of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, a period that he has defined as "one of the most important of my degree program, but tremendously hard". From his professional career, the most valuable lesson he learned, he said, was "the importance of serving others, of being on the ground to get to know the reality and of having empathy, a characteristic of Spanish diplomats". To conclude, and alluding to the degree scroll of the lecture, "The luck of being a diplomat in our time", Pérez-Hernández stated that "to find luck you have to look for it, and if you look for it, you end up finding it".

Raimundo Pérez-Hernández is graduate in Law from the Complutense University of Madrid. He joined the diplomatic service at degree program in 1976. He has been Counsellor in the Permanent Delegation of Spain to the United Nations Office; Economic and Commercial Counsellor in the Spanish Embassy in the French Republic; head of protocol of the Presidency of the Government, with the rank of Director General; Executive President of committee Organiser of the Spanish Presidency of the committee of the European Union, with the rank of Under-Secretary; Ambassador Permanent Representative to the United Nations Office and other international organisations based in Geneva; President of the Executive committee of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees; Ambassador of Spain to the Republic of Austria; and Ambassador Introducer, MAEC, with the rank of Ambassador.