Yesterday, I learned that Gil Loescher had passed away in Oxford, where he had devoted the time and energy of his 'retirement' from Professor of International Relations at the University of Notre Dame to being a highly active and sought after Visiting Professor at the Refugee Studies Centre and at the Centre for International Studies.
Many who did not know him personally will surely have come across his name and his work as a historian and political scientist, first on the refugee policy and practice of the United States during the post-war period, and then on contemporary issues and present-day challenges. His 2001 study, The UNHCR and World Politics: A Perilous Path, is a seminal work which none should ignore, not only for the extensive research and experience which he brought to the subject, but also for his astute insights into the workings of a bureaucracy and the challenges ahead. He didn't stop there, of course, and his name and his contributions to refugee studies continued to appear with wonderful regularity.
Many who passed through Oxford, to do the MSc in forced migration, or to attend the RSC's annual summer school, or simply to visit, will have also discovered his great humanity, his qualities as a teacher and inspiration, and a truly delightful person.
Gil was not just larger than life, but tall too - 6 foot six inches in old currency, if I remember rightly. In August 2003, though, he lost both his legs in the August 2003 bombing of the UN Headquarters in Baghdad, which also killed our friend and colleague, Arthur Helton, and the Secretary-General's Special Representative, Sergio Vieira de Mello. Despite his terrible injuries and a period of induced coma, Gil was back in Oxford scarcely three months later, in time for the annual Barbara Harrell-Bond lecture and already joking about no longer being quite so tall...
He is missed already - his wry smile, his laugh - but his work and his collaborations and his encouragement will live on, a model to us all.
Professor Guy S. Goodwin-Gill
Andrew & Renata Kaldor Centre for International Refugee Law, UNSW
Emeritus Fellow, All Souls College, Oxford
Professor Gil Loescher was a friend, mentor and inspiration to many at the Kaldor Centre. We join with many across the world in mourning the loss of this warm, kind and generous scholar.