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Jeremy David Pope ONZM, 1938 – 2012

By Geoff Adlam

Jeremy Pope died in Wellington on 29 August 2012 aged 73. Throughout his life he was an important figure in promoting human rights and fighting corruption. Transparency International, the Berlin-based organisation which he co-founded, today has over 100 chapters throughout the world.

Jeremy was born in Wellington on 9 October 1938, one of three children born to Quentin Pope and Isabel McLennan. His father was a poet and journalist, representing the Chicago Daily Tribune and New York Times in New Zealand and after World War Two becoming an international correspondent around the world.

Jeremy was educated at St Peter’s preparatory school in Cambridge, Waikato, and Wanganui Collegiate school. On completion of his secondary education he studied law at Victoria University of Wellington. In 1963 he married Diana Miller and was admitted to the bar.

After he had worked in legal practice for several years, Jeremy and Diana travelled overseas. On their return they decided to produce the sort of travel guides which would have helped them, and in 1973 they published the Mobil Guides to both the North and South Islands. These were an instant success and over 200,000 copies were sold over 30 years and several editions. The 10th edition was largely rewritten and expanded, and is now known as the Penguin New Zealand Travel Guides. Jeremy and Diana were awarded the Horwath Sir Jack Newman Award which recognises an outstanding contribution to travel in New Zealand.

In the 1970s Pope was appointed editor of the New Zealand Law Journal. Active in the Save Manapouri environmental movement and an opponent of sporting contact with the Apartheid regime in South Africa, Jeremy Pope was not afraid to publicise his viewpoints. This concerned New Zealand Law Society President Lester Castle, who took the (then) unusual step of issuing a press statement on 4 November 1975 which advised that the Law Journal was not published by or on behalf of the Law Society, which had no control over its content or editorial content.

“Mr Jeremy Pope, as editor of the journal, speaks either personally or in his editorial capacity. He does not, nor does he claim to, express the views of the New Zealand Law Society,” said Castle. “It is important that the public should know this. The New Zealand Law Society is very jealous of its political independence, which enables it to make balanced unbiased submissions on legislation to Parliament in the interests of all sections of the community.”

Pope resigned as editor of the New Zealand Law Journal early in 1976, reportedly because of his dissatisfaction with how Prime Minister Robert Muldoon was running the country. He joined the Commonwealth Secretariat in London, initially as assistant director of the legal division and editor of the Commonwealth Law Bulletin. What was a three-year contract ended up as a stay of 17 years, with Pope becoming director of the division in 1980. Assignments while he was with the Secretariat included secretary to the Commonwealth Observer Group which oversaw Zimbabwe’s independence elections in 1980 and membership of the Commonwealth Group of Eminent Persons which visited South Africa in 1986 and set events in train which resulted in the release of Nelson Mandela.

In 1994 Jeremy Pope left the Secretariat to join a new Berlin-based non-governmental organisation called Transparency International. Transparency’s mission remains one of stopping corruption and promoting transparency, accountability and integrity at all levels and across all sectors of society.

Pope was Transparency’s first managing director, from 1994 to 1998, when he stepped down to become Executive Director of Transparency International’s London office with responsibility for knowledge management. He created one of Transparency’s first source books, which was used to identify and address corruption risks in government and society. This is now the basis for the National Integrity Systems assessment, an important tool for the organisation.

The founder and former Chair of Transparency International, Peter Eigen, said Jeremy Pope was one of the intellectual fathers of the organisation.

“He joined our organisation with a deep knowledge of institutions, how they should work, and the impact on society when they fail. He did help Transparency International develop pioneering ways to define and fight corruption. From the moment he accepted to become Managing Director of the TI-Secretariat in 1994 until his departure, he was my strongest partner and friend in building the TI movement.”

A Transparency co-founder Fredrik Galtung says that at Transparency Pope was the catalyst for the first open discussions on corruption and governance involving civil society in numerous countries, often in environments of official hostility.

“He inspired hundreds of activists to take up this struggle.”

Pope’s contribution in the fight against corruption was also recognised in 1995 when he was appointed an anti-corruption advisor to the World Bank President.

In October 2003 Pope left Transparency to co-found Tiri with Fredrik Galtung, now chief executive of Integrity Action. Tiri is a Māori word which means lifting taboos for the protection of society. Today Tiri networks operate in over 70 countries.

“We started Tiri without any funding, so we worked from the Popes’ kitchen for the first two years,” Fredrik Galtung later recalled. “This suited Pope, who could work in his shorts and T-shirt.”

Returning to New Zealand in 2006, Jeremy Pope’s contribution to human rights was recognised in 2007 when he was made an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit “for services to international affairs”.

He was appointed a Commissioner on the New Zealand Human Rights Commission on 31 January 2008 and served there until his death. A statement from Chief Commissioner David Rutherford said Jeremy Pope provided his advice and expertise to the Commission on litigation strategy and criminal justice issues, and he was also a lead Commissioner on the right to an adequate standard of living project.

“I count myself fortunate to be amongst the many people to have learned much from this great New Zealander. His perspective and knowledge will be missed by all of us,” David Rutherford said.

“Jeremy championed the civil and political rights of New Zealanders, supported the strengthening of parliamentary democracy, and had an interest in progressive penal reform,” said Equal Employment Opportunities Commissioner Judy McGregor. “We will greatly miss his courage, good humour and gentle wisdom.”

Jeremy Pope is survived by his wife Diana, children Adam, Jemima and Samuel, and grandchildren Jessica and Miki.

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Last updated on the 29th January 2018