Mr Harmel was conferred the Order of the Rising Sun, Gold Rays with Neck Ribbon, a national decoration awarded by the Japanese government, created in 1875. The decoration was in recognition of his “outstanding contribution to the OECD for over 35 years, as well as the enhancement of relations between Japan and the organisation”.
Mr Harmel joined the OECD in 1975 as an administrator in the International Energy Agency. Four years later he moved on to the general secretariat of the OECD. He served both the Council and the Executive Committee, first as chief and later as director, until his retirement in April 2011. As Ambassador Yoshikawa pointed out at the convivial award ceremony, Mr Harmel dedicated himself to the important task of assisting consensus building in the Council, the “highest body” of the organisation. “We all counted on his knowledge and wisdom”, the ambassador said, recalling fond tributes from staff at the Japanese delegation, who described Mr Harmel as “the living dictionary and guardian of the OECD”.
In his response, Mr Harmel underlined how deeply honoured he was to receive this very important distinction from Japan. Ambassador Yoshikawa and Mr Harmel have been close friends ever since they helped organise the Tokyo Council in 1989, which marked the 25th anniversary of Japan’s accession to the OECD and which was the first OECD Council meeting to be held outside Paris.
©OECD Observer No 287, Q4 2011