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Archives & Special Collections

Archives and special collections deposited at the Geneva Graduate Institute

The Ronald Dreyer Rare Books Collection (XVII-XIXth c.)

© Geneva Graduate Institute

Alumnus of the Institute, Dr Ronald F. Dreyer was a diplomat and international expert in peace-building issues and democratisation processes. He also was a passionate bibliophile, who collected ancient books in connection with his own fields of expertise – international relations, diplomacy and peace-building – but also politics and 18th century French literature.

Dr Ronald F. Dreyer was on board the ill-fated Air France flight AF 447 from Brazil to Paris on Monday, 1 June 2009. His wife, Dr Marilyn Dreyer-Pigott offered to donate his personal library of rare books to the Institute in 2014. This comprises a collection of fifty old and rare books, dating from the 17th to the 19th centuries. This generous donation is gratefully acknowledged.

Among those remarkable items stand an original edition of one of the first diplomacy manuals, L'Ambassadeur et ses fonctions by Abraham de Wicquefort (1680-1681), an 1668 edition of the Ambassade du Maréchal de Bassompierre en Suisse l'an 1625, a calfskin-bounded volume of De la manière de négocier avec les souverains by François de Callières (1716), the abbé de Saint-Pierre's Projet de traité pour rendre la paix perpétuelle (1717) and an extremely rare edition of Jacob Spon's Histoire de la ville et de l'Etat de Genève (1682).

These volumes are currently being processed by the Institute's Library. They are accessible to the public by appointment, and some of them are soon to be digitised and displayed in a digital library.


Dr Ronald F. Dreyer (1950-2009)

Dr Ronald F. Dreyer was an alumnus of the Institute. He began his career as a Delegate to the International Committee of the Red Cross and made his first field missions to Cyprus (1975), Namibia (1976) and Zimbabwe (1977). He defended a PhD in Political Science on British perceptions of German rule in Namibia (prom.1985), which was later published[1]. Dr Dreyer was a Research Fellow and Lecturer at the Institute between 1985 and 1991. His post-doctoral research on Namibia and Southern Africa was published by the Institute[2].

He entered diplomacy by conducting monitoring missions and support to electoral processes in countries in crisis, for the United Nations and the OSCE: Namibia (1989), Haiti (1990), Bulgaria (1991), Romania (1992) and Eritrea (1993). As Regional Coordinator for the UN Verification Mission UNAVEM II (Angola, 1992), member in ONUMOZ (Mozambique, 1994) and Joint Coordinator for the UN/OSCE Electoral Verification Mission in Azerbaijan (1995), he contributed to the consolidation of peace and democratisation processes in countries emerging from conflict, bringing his expertise in election assistance and observation. He also served in Bosnia and Herzegovina, as a disarmament and civil reconstruction specialist, for the OSCE (1996-1998) and the UN BRH-OHR (2003-2004).

As an expert on peace-building issues, Dr Ronald F. Dreyer continued his diplomatic career in Brussels (OSCE Stability Pact for South-Eastern Europe) between 1999 and 2002, then again returned to Angola for the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation in 2005. The following year, he became Coordinator of the Geneva Declaration on Armed Violence and Development, working actively with the Swiss Permanent Mission to the UN and the Small Arms Survey until his untimely death.

A video prepared by colleagues pays hommage to Dr Ronald F. Dreyer and retraces his professional life: In Memoriam Ronald Dreyer. This film was shown at the Memorial for Peace Ceremony held at the Institute on 26 june 2009 (org. Mr Keith Krause)[3].

[1] Dreyer, Ronald F. - The Mind of Official Imperialism: British and Cape Governments Perceptions of German Rule in Namibia from the Heligoland-Zanzibar Treaty to the Kruger Telegram (1890-1896). - Reimar Hobbing, 1987
[2] Dreyer, Ronald F. - Namibia and Southern Africa: Regional Dynamics of Decolonization : 1945-90. - Kegan Paul International, 1994
[3] Credits: Small Arms Survey Team – Elisa Gilgen (coord.). Music: Part 1: "Villanelle for Our Time", by Leonard Cohen, with lyrics by Canadian poet and constitutional expert Frank Scott (1899-1985), who helped found the first Canadian Social democratic Party. Part 2: "BE the Breath" from "Liquid Light" through Marilyn Dreyer-Pigott