UN Diplomat Visits Ohio State and Presents Book about His Father
On April 20, 2023, The Center for Slavic, East European and Eurasian Studies, The Ohio State University Libraries and the Mershon Center for International Security Studies hosted U.N. Diplomat David A. Chikvaidze, Ph.D. on campus. Chikvaidze serves as the Chef de Cabinet to the Director-General of the United Nations Office at Geneva and has worked in foreign service for more than 30 years. Georgian by birth, Chikvaidze worked in the offices of Soviet President Gorbachev and Russian President Yeltsin, as well as the Soviet Embassy in Washington D.C., before leaving to work for the UN. Prior to assuming his current position, Chikvaidze was Director of the UN Library at Geneva and Chairman of the UNOG Cultural Activities Committee. He served as Senior Adviser to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and Chief of the Communications and NGO Partnerships Section in Geneva, and spokesman for the 61st session of the Commission on Human Rights and Human Rights Treaty Bodies.
Chikvaidze’s visit to Ohio State was prompted by his father’s life history. His father, Aleksandre Chikvaidze, served as the Foreign Minister of Georgia who integrated the newly-independent state into the international system. As a young man the elder Chikvaidze visited Ohio on an exchange program and was pictured on the front page of The Lantern. His son featured the article in the book he compiled about his father’s life, and he wanted to ensure that a copy was available at Ohio State. He presented a copy of the tri-lingual biography to be held in Thompson Library to Dean of University Libraries Damon Jaggars and Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences David Horn. As former Director of the UN Library at Geneva, Chikvaidze was interested in seeing more of Thompson Library’s facilities and received a guided tour from Eric Johnson, the Head of Special Collections.
Chikvaidze then spoke with Ohio State students and faculty at an informal lunch hosted by the Mershon Center. He shared stories of his time as a Soviet diplomat (and realized he may have crossed paths with Ohio State professor Richard Herrmann while in Washington D.C.), working for Gorbachev at the time of his resignation and suddenly realizing he was no longer in his own country, serving on Russian President Yeltsin’s staff while his father negotiated with him as a representative of Georgia, and feeling frustrated by UN deliberations on how to respond to the genocide in Rwanda. The attendees were intrigued by his personal perspective on historical events. He presented a second copy of his book to the Mershon Center.
While in Columbus, Chikvaidze also spoke about his career in diplomacy at the Columbus Metropolitan Club, a talk which can be viewed on YouTube here. His book will be available in Thompson Library soon.