July 28, 2015 – A special session of the General Assembly was held Monday to pay tribute to Djibouti’s former UN ambassador, Roble Olhaye, who passed away last week in New York. He was 71.
Olhaye took up his UN post in 1988 and was also his country’s ambassador to DC and non-resident ambassador to Canada. He served as president of the Security Council in February 1994.
“At this time of mourning, we may take some measure of comfort from knowing that he left a lasting legacy based on nearly 30 years of engagement with the United Nations,” Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said at Monday’s General Assembly tribute. “He was fondly referred to as the ‘eternal representative’ among permanent representatives. He had great wisdom. We considered him a leading ‘dictionary’ since he knew so much.”
Also speaking at Monday’s tribute was US Ambassador Samantha Power. She recalled asking her predecessor, Susan Rice, for advice on who to call on when she arrived at the UN.
“Go see the Djiboutian Ambassador,” Rice told her. “He knows everyone, and he knows everything.”
“There was no geopolitical conversation with Roble that didn’t begin with a discussion of our families, and our love of our kids,” Power told delegates. “That is one quality that made him such a tireless diplomat: he never lost sight of the individuals and families who were – and still are – affected by all of the debates we have here.”
At the time of his death Olhaye was the longest serving ambassador to the United States and held the honorary title Dean of the Diplomatic Corps.
He is survived by his wife and five children.