AFICS Bulletin article

AFICS Bulletin article

Article published in the AFICS Bulletin of January 2014, Vol. 73, No.1

Why might Greycells be of interest to you?

Greycells is an officially recognised association with 44 members at this time, all retirees of international organisations. This diversity of professional background is a serious advantage.

There is relevant information in an article that appeared in UN Special in January 2012 but…

What is important is you. You may not be aware of it, but you are an extraordinary resource, because of your knowledge, your experiences, and what you have witnessed in your work. This rich variety belongs to you and is in great demand. It is much appreciated as it is a response to very real needs. It is also irreplaceable and in danger of being lost.

It is not a question of financial advantage, either for us or for you, since in Greycells everything is strictly on a volunteer basis. What it is is to share, to become known and to be used it for the benefit of our partners, whether they be public organisations or NGOs.

Maybe you have questions when you think about whether to join Greycells: what would I do? How much time will it take? Where would the activities take place, what happens and with whom? I will try to answer in as straightforward a way as possible.

What we do depends basically on the nature of the activity, project, and partners that Greycells has chosen to associate with. That means that the contribution of members will vary and will depend on the involvement and the time each one wants to devote to it.

If we look at examples of activities that have been carried out, it might be helping the permanent mission of an LDC to organise itself administratively, to train its staff in the exercise of their functions in relation to international organisations, to facilitate contacts with the secretariats. In the case of NGOs, a member of Greycells might help formulate a technical assistance project in such a way as to interest potential donors. Greycells organises courses, presentations, conferences, and exposés, at university and secondary school levels, on international organisations or specific bits of their activities, on challenges they face, and on the results obtained. These interventions are not only carried out by volunteer members, but are conceived, negotiated and managed by the association, that is by members who have accepted to contribute toward the achievement of these tasks. When, for example, Greycells undertakes to provide second-hand computers in working condition to a school in Kerala, members start by finding such computers, and then they also take care of the logistics of transport and reception by the school. Many other examples could be cited.

Greycells also fosters relations among its members, and between them and permanent missions, local authorities and NGOs.

This year we organised six seminars at the University of St. Gallen, in the framework of their Masters programme in “International Affairs and Governance”. The evaluation of Greycells’ performance by the students was such that the university has asked us to do another series in 2014, and we are working on that. At the same time Greycells is working on a pilot project to assist permanent missions of LDCs to manage the documentation that they receive from international organisations. Several members are engaged in this project, which will begin with a diagnosis of the situation in participating missions.

Greycells’ constant aim is to meet the expectations of those who seek our help, and the word from our partners is that we do.

The work of Greycells is managed through its Executive Committee, which meets on a regular basis. Anyone who wishes may be a member of the committee. Communication is almost exclusively by email. Thanks to the generosity of the Republic and Canton of Geneva, Greycells has at its disposal an office and meeting room in La Pastorale.

To sum up: taking part in Greycells activities brings undoubted satisfactions to those who contribute to them, that is to say the members, but also to the beneficiaries of that work. Each member decides on the time to devote, when that will be, and the nature and scope of involvement.

Retirees who would like more information, or who wish to join Greycells, may contact us at the following addresses: or .


René Kirszbaum

President, Executive Committee