Ms. Haiyan Qian

IMG_7544 Ms. Haiyan Qian, devoted wife, loving mother, and dedicated International Civil Servant for the United Nations, died on the morning of 18 February 2013 at the age of 57 after a heroic battle with cancer.

During the past 33 years, Ms. Qian dedicated her career to global public policy, governance, public administration and development. Since joining the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UNDESA), Ms. Qian has served as Chief Manager of the United Nations Public Administration Network (UNPAN),  Chief of the e-Government Branch (formerly known as Knowledge Management Branch) before becoming the Director of the Division for Public Administration and Development Management (DPADM) on 1 February 2009. Prior to joining UNDESA, Ms. Qian worked for other United Nations agencies, such as the Centre for Science and Technology for Development and UNEP’s Centre on Environmentally Sound Technology in Japan. Before joining the United Nations, Ms. Qian worked for  the Chinese Government in the area of science and technology for development and served in the Chinese Permanent Mission to the United Nations based in New York, covering the United Nations Second Committee on Economic and Social Affairs.

At the United Nations, Ms. Qian has left behind a legacy founded on hard work, dedicated service and loyalty. Ms. Qian was a visionary leader that was admired and respected by all her colleagues and others in the field of public administration around the world.

Ms. Qian received her Bachelor of Arts in Beijing, China and her Master in Public Administration from the Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University, USA.

[click here to read this text in Chinese]

[click here to read the thank you letter from Ms. Haiyan Qian’s family]

332 Responses

  1. Gianluca Misuraca
    Gianluca Misuraca
    at · Reply

    I had the honour to have Haiyan as my supervisor when working for UNDESA and I appreciated her professional capacity and guidance, and especially her passion and committment for her work.. a true inspiration for me and many others around the world.
    I join all collegues and friends in expressing my deepest condolences to Haiyan’s family

  2. Wang Dehua, RCOCI
    Wang Dehua, RCOCI
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    It is great shock for me to learn Ms. Haiyan Qian, Director of DESA’s Division for Public Administration and Development Management, a friend of me and dedicated International Civil Servant for the United Nations, died on the morning of 18 February 2013. It is a great loss of us while I think that her contributions to the work of global public policy, governance and public administration have been an inspiration to us all. I can never forget her hardworking spirits during our coopertion in Shanghai. Pls pass my wors of condolences to her family, relatives, colleagues and friends.

  3. 曹旋旋
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    前年我們還聚在我家喝粥,侃山,去年春天在聯合國參加你主辦的活動時,你還對我說,我挑選的都是舞蹈,熱鬧的,下次再給你們挑點兒熱鬧的。你喜歡熱鬧,你代表的就是蓬蓬勃勃的生命力。……在我們幾十年的交往中,好像總是環繞着笑聲,好像總是你搶我奪地爭着說話,一個比一個聲高,聲音最高的那個就是你。即使在你一個人既要工作又要照顧教育女兒的時候,既使在你掛念着在異邦砲火硝煙中維和的老張的時候,那笑聲沒間斷過。但現在你突然安靜了,安靜得我好不習慣,安靜得我手足無措…… 在我的印象中,你永遠在加班,開會,出差,忙碌…… 作為一個貢獻頗丰的國際公僕,作為孝順的女兒,慈愛的母親,貼心的妻子,你透支太多了,你累了,你好好休息吧。安息吧,海燕…… 你的老朋友們會永遠懷念你,也會把關心和歡笑帶給你的家人,你知道的。

  4. Lizette Michael
    Lizette Michael
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    I am a retired ex-CAFRAD staff member. Within the context of my career at CAFRAD, I came to know Haiyan closely as well as most of UNDESA’s staff.

    I was grieved to hear of Haiyan’s death. I have always appreciated Haiyan’s professional qualities, her hard work and her sense of dedication to UNPAN network. On the personal level, I found Haiyan a pleasant and warm person to deal with.

    Haiyan’s contribution to promote the field of Public Administration in general and enhancing the image of UNPAN network worldwide cannot be forgotten.

    I am sure UNDESA staff will miss Haiyan as Director of the Department, she will also be greatly missed in the International Scene and it will take time to come to terms with reality.

    May God rest Haiyan’s soul in peace and bring comfort and serenity to her family and friends.

    With my deep condolences.

  5. 马燕波
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  6. Bo Wang
    Bo Wang
    at · Reply

    Why did you leave us without saying goodbuy? You left us so sudden, so soon, so quiet and so early, way too early! Our party is not over. I have prepared some rice soup, your favourite, so that we can hear more inside stories from you on wold events and there is so much more we want to talk about our child life together.
    I don’t believe you have left us for good. You are simply on a trip, giving another speech in one of those world forums and you will be back soon, won’t you? Our karaoke is yet to start and we will have more fun and of course more laughter.

  7. 陈征天,卢娟,陈嘲风
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  8. 孟春 mengchun
    孟春 mengchun
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  9. 薛铅 qianxue
    薛铅 qianxue
    at · Reply

    薛铅 2012.2.25

  10. SONG
    at · Reply

    The moment received the email, I was shocked with great sorrow, can not be clam in a long time. I really can’t believe this is true. To me personally, she is a respected leader and a dear big sister.
    Director Qian, she always take care of all colleagues; to give everyone courage and support, to share her knowledge and experience. Even in busy work, she never forgot to pass the greetings and thanks to all staffs. She keep foresight thinking and pioneer work on Public Administration and her wisdom guide the whole UNPAN network to go ahead.
    It is so clear in my memory, the first time we met in Shanghai in 2001. She is very nice and humorous. When in the working, she is professional and efficient. I still remember the last time her come to Shanghai, it is the end of October in 2010. Finding a time slot in a busy schedule, we walk around in creative cluster with typical Shanghai characters, the vivid life in the old house, the authentic taste from the old store and the look she tried on a Qipao … She is in my mind individually.
    Since then, She had the heroic battle against disease during the 2 years. But her warm and bright smile always delivers the positive energy even now on the webpage…
    Today, here, the cold moon may extend my deepest condolence to Haiyan’s family and all feel sad. She will be in our memory forever.
    SONG @Shanghai

  11. 张晓彬
    at · Reply


    张晓彬 周小方 万独艳

  12. 闫军红
    at · Reply

    音容笑貌婉在,却再也见不到我敬爱的钱大姐。您是中国女性的杰出代表 联合国的自豪,我心中永远的骄傲。57年太短,不能承载您对于人类社会的美好理想,然您已鞠躬尽瘁,您为国际社会做出的贡献,我们将缅怀于心,勉励前行。唯愿您安息,在天堂依然朗朗的笑声,俯瞰世界大同。

  13. Jean Yves Djamen
    Jean Yves Djamen
    at · Reply

    It’s with a deep sorrow that I received the news about the passing of Ms. Haiyan Qian.

    I first met with Ms. Qian during the UN Public Service award ceremony in June 2004. She was then the UNPAN Chief Manager devoted to the quest for improvement in Public Service. Her unwavering commitment to Public Administration will be remembered. She will be missed.

    My condolences to her family. May she rest in peace.

    Jean-Yves Djamen
    Vice President APS-HRMnet Central Africa

  14. 万万姚恺
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  15. SONG
    at · Reply


  16. Rajkumar Prasad
    Rajkumar Prasad
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    I was very saddened to learn of the passing of our beloved UN DESA Director Haiyan Qian. It is my personal loss. I knew her since years years and whever I dropped her email regarding e-Governance, she always replied, appriciated my work and always extended Invitation for the program.

    She is not only a super fine Diplomat but a very very kind human. I met her on 3rd Decemner 2012 during meeting.

    Her vision towards development of Society worldwide and betterment of Public Services globally by using ICT/e-Governance is well noted.

    I express my heartful condolence to the bereaved family member, relatives, friends, colleagues. May the Almighty God give them Strenght to bear this irrepairable loss.
    I pray that her soul rest in peace.

    Rajkumar Prasad
    CEO, Commonweatlh Centre for e-Governance

  17. Prof Wang Jianhua
    Prof Wang Jianhua
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    Dear Chief Haiyan:

    I love to use this title of yours ever since I decided to follow you in Unpan a dozen of years ago. But I was totally shocked by your sudden pass away, not knowing how to keep my “promise” in my retirement

    Once I told you, when you were visiting my institute and inspecting my department in Shanghai, that I would made a special collection of photos for you. Entitled “The Other Side of Chief Haiyan,” I joked, “Not focusing on your work, but about your soft side, your life, humour, health, hobby, play, pleasure, friendship, and everything that makes you relax.”

    You thanked me and smiled. You read what I mean, and I really appreciated it. As always you believed in me, just as you had confidence about my institute and RCOCI.

    Such is true understanding, good frindship and partnership between us, or for that matter, among all UNPAN members, under your wise leadership.

    Unfortunately, you left us so soon.

    No! You never leave! You continue to add glory to the cause of UN by your invaluable legacy. I’m proud of you! Meanwhile I feel sorry for the unfulfilled promise.

    Wang Jianhua
    Retired professor, Institute of Information, Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences, CHINA
    Honorary chief editor, UNPAN-AP Editorial Department, RCOCI

  18. 苏燕
    at · Reply

    苏燕 杨壮生

  19. 任远 yuanren
    任远 yuanren
    at · Reply

    毛毛 2012.2.34

  20. MaoMao
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  21. 鲁小原 xiaoyuanlu
    鲁小原 xiaoyuanlu
    at · Reply


  22. Nathan Henninger
    Nathan Henninger
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    I was very saddened to learn of the passing of our Director, Haiyan Qian.

    To me, Haiyan was a very encouraging and supportive person. I will never forget when I first met her in 2009 how she emphasized how she believed people do their best when they are allowed and encouraged to build off of their strengths, what they are good at. She encouraged staff at all levels to be engaged, to be involved, to contribute work that challenged them and asked them to stretch and grow. She didn’t want staff to feel entirely defined by their level, but wanted them to find ways they could contribute their best and be passionate and involved in realizing the goals of the Division.

    Haiyan was a real humanist and spoke with great passion on public administration. She made a believer of me that countries really can learn from each other when they share what they do best with each other, that this is in fact an important part of the peace process.

    Personally, I always appreciated how when an idea would occur on how we might produce a new product for outreach or how we might innovate she was always very supportive. She was very pro-active and had high standards and enthusiastic energy.

    She always supported innovation and loved new ideas. She also communicated great integrity and modeled a true belief in service, the value of serving others.

    She appreciated people and cared. She was kind, had a good sense of humor and was a peacemaker.

    I will miss her. My condolences to her family, friends and colleagues. May she rest in peace.

  23. Zengpei Xuan, UN Retiree
    Zengpei Xuan, UN Retiree
    at · Reply

    I was deeply saddened by the passing away of Haiyan, a long-time friend and cooperator. Haiyan and I became known to each other from our years servicing under China’s State Science and Technology Commission back in the early 1990s. Since then we had kept in touch, and been often working closely with each other — especially after I joined the UN service for the second time about 10 years ago as Director, Information, Communications and Space Technology Division at ESCAP. Jointly, we organized a number of activities in Bangkok and Seoul, all seen as highly successful, rewarding and pleasant. I also had the huge pleasure of visiting her in DESA for several times throughout the last 20 years. Talking to her was a special treat, relaxing experience and unique enjoyment. In addition, we exchanged emails and conversed over phone. To me, she was a wonderful friend. She was very warm, caring, sincere, always ready to listen, to share, and to help. While working, you will find a true partner in her with sophistication in professionalism, comprehensiveness, skillfulness and enthusiasm. In all our joint work, she would never try to do less items and claim more in outcome. Rather, she would compete with you to do more and claim less. She was very devoted to the UN. She was humble, but ambitious as well. She can be flexible but never yield in principles. She loves DESA and the UN, perhaps more than herself. I could never forget our last conversation over phone in mid-2012 when she called me from DESA and sought some work-related clarifications. In the middle of it she briefly informed, quietly and in a very even and peaceful tone, that she had caught cancer already for sometime. She then continued her talking session with me, not allowing me to change the subject to her health. She would not accept my suggestion to stop work and to go all out seeking solutions to cancel treatment. She said she would continue to work to the level possible. She demonstrated all fine qualities of her native Chinese culture and successfully brought them to her UN service. As a fellow Chinese, I admire her and feel very proud of her.
    In the Chinese language, Hai Yan means sea gull, or swallow, both birds very much favored for its braveness in adverse occasion weather or its pleasing songs while flying among willow trees in the sunny Spring days. Now, Hai Yan had flied away to the paradise in the outer space. May this brave bird continue to sing in the Heaven so that we can continue to hear her. May Buddha bless her!

  24. Ran Kim
    Ran Kim
    at · Reply

    Haiyan was a “dynamo” of boundless (intellectual) energy. She was always working and always learning. There was no stopping her.

    When I was an intern, many years ago, she was special assistant to the Director. My then supervisor told me how great she was and how much the Director relied on her, a relatively young P-3 staff. Many years later, I heard about her having successfully pulled off UNPAN.

    Once again, many years later, I found myself working with Haiyan, again, first as Chief of eGB and later Director, who was beloved and most of all very much respected. I could see her energy and sharp mind turning to analytical work (e.g., e-Government Survey). Her passing came as such a shock. We will miss her. I wish much strength to her loving family.

  25. Ravinder Kaur, Osmania University, India
    Ravinder Kaur, Osmania University, India
    at · Reply

    We are extremely sorry to hear the sad & untimely demise of Ms.Haiyan Quian on 18 Feb.2013.
    The short interaction we had with her on April 18 2012 is worth recalling. She not only expressed about her strong fight with cancer but also discussed about her plans for development of public administration.
    We exress our heartfelt condolences to the bereaved family members, relatives, friends, & colleagues. May the Almighty give them the strength to bear this irrepairable loss.
    We pray that her soul rest in peace.

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