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Henry R. Labouisse biography

© UNICEF/HQ65-0002
UNICEF Executive Director Henry Labouisse (1965-1979) at left, receives the Nobel Peace Prize on behalf of UNICEF, at the prize ceremonies on 10 December 1965.

American attorney and diplomat Henry R. Labouisse (1904 - 1987) took up the reins of leadership in June 1965 and held them until December 1979.

Labouisse's stated belief that 'the welfare of today's children is inseparably linked with the peace of tomorrow's world' guided UNICEF's efforts to help children and families in developing countries gain access to social services such as health and education.

Under Labouisse's leadership, UNICEF emphasized community-based initiatives for health, nutrition, formal and non-formal education, and water and sanitation. As part of promoting primary health care, UNICEF supported low-cost, decentralized services aimed at bringing basic health services to all. The organization also focused on the hard-to-reach rural areas and urban slums and began to address women's needs independent of their role as mothers. Major conflicts and natural disasters during the late 1960s and 1970s led to an upsurge in UNICEF emergency relief operations.

Labouisse brought to UNICEF his broad range of experience in international service. After practising law in New York City, Labouisse worked for the US Marshall Plan in Europe following World War II, and was named head of the UN Relief and Works Administration (UNRWA) in the Middle East in 1954. In the 1960s, he served as head of the US International Co-operation Administration, an aid agency, and then served as the US ambassador to Greece before being named Executive Director of UNICEF.




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