Annan Adviser Plugs Foreign Service

A former adviser to U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan neatly wrapped up International Careers Week on Friday with a discussion of his own career in international relations, spanning academia, journalism and diplomacy.

In previous years, the week-long series of panels and speakers had been the major fall focus of the Student Council of the Weatherhead Center for International Affairs. After the Weatherhead Center and the Harvard International Relations Council (IRC) decided this September to collaborate on events targeting undergraduates, the council was dissolved.

IRC officers who worked on this year’s International Careers Week said they were pleased with the turnout, which they attributed to the new alliance.

“This week happened last year and it was much less attended,” said David K. Kessler ’04, IRC president and former Weatherhead Center Student Council member.

According to Kessler, the event also bodes well for the IRC’s further collaboration with other organizations.

“We’re going to work with OCS next year,” Kessler said. “It will only be bigger.”

The week culminated in a reception and keynote address by Nader Mousavizadeh ’92 in the Winthrop House Library to a group of 30 students and affiliates.

While acknowledging the role of serendipity in his own career, Mousavizadeh emphasized that certain personal characteristics would indeed be helpful to a successful career in international diplomacy.

A chance meeting with a United Nations official at a conference during the Rhodes Scholar’s years writing for The New Republic, a magazine critiquing domestic and world affairs, caused Mousavizadeh to join the U.N. mission in Bosnia.

He said that the three months he spent working for the U.N. in a small Bosnian town were extremely helpful during his six years as a political aide to Annan.

“There really is no substitute for going and spending time in the field,” said Mousavizadeh, a resident scholar in Lowell House.

Indeed, he said, such field work is often a door into the realm of diplomacy.

“If you are interested, and you are brave, and you are willing to go into the field,” there will be opportunities available to you, he said.

And despite the Aug. 19 bombing of the U.N. headquarters in Baghdad, which killed over 20, Mousavizadeh said that work in war zones and places of world conflict must remain enmeshed in real life.

“We can’t go and sit there behind barbed wire and humvees,” he said.

Mousavizadeh, whose relatively long term of service made him “one of the youngest people in the [inner] circle by 25 years,” emphasized that loyalty in his line of work is crucial to affecting the decisions being made.

Even the Secretary General trusts one more “after you’ve seen each other in funny situations,” he said.

-Staff Writer Jannie S. Tsuei can be reached at tsuei@fas.harvard.edu.