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Nigel Baker

Ambassador to the Holy See (2011-2016)

Part of FCDO Outreach

24th June 2011

Saving Children from Disease

13 June saw an extremely significant meeting in London, co-hosted by the British Government and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. It was especially important for children in developing countries.

On that day, an addition $4.3bn was raised to replenish the Global Alliance on Vaccines and Immunisation (GAVI). This will mean that GAVI can immunise more than 250 million children against deadly yet preventable diseases, and will save more than 4 million lives by 2015. GAVI is especially focusing on new vaccines to protect against the two biggest killers of children under 5 in the world: pneumonia and diarrhoea. The meeting also secured important private sector commitments towards vaccine support, including convincing vaccine manufacturers to cut significantly the cost of their vaccines (e.g. by 66% in the case of the rotavirus vaccine).

Bill Gates called the meeting “an incredible milestone”. I am proud that the United Kingdom will be the single largest donor over the next 5 years, guaranteeing $1.33bn of the total. Other significant donors include Norway, the USA, Sweden, the Netherlands, Austria and France, as well as the extraordinary personal generosity of Bill Gates himself (he pledged an additional $1bn).

Too many children in the developing world still die from preventable disease. The GAVI Alliance is committed to making this a thing of the past. At a time of economic difficulty, it is vital that all countries keep their aid and development promises. The results, in this case, tell their own story.

About Nigel Baker

Nigel was British Ambassador to the Holy See from 2011-2016. He presented his Credentials to Pope Benedict XVI on 9 September 2011, after serving 8 years in Latin America, as…

Nigel was British Ambassador to the Holy See from 2011-2016. He presented his Credentials to Pope Benedict XVI on 9 September 2011, after serving 8 years in Latin America, as Deputy Head of Mission in the British Embassy in Havana, Cuba (2003-6) and then as British Ambassador in La Paz, Bolivia (2007-11). In July 2016, Nigel finished his posting, and is currently back in London.

As the first British Ambassador to the Holy See ever to have a blog, Nigel provided a regular window on what the Embassy and the Ambassador does. The blogs covered a wide range of issues, from Royal and Ministerial visits to Diplomacy and Faith, freedom of religion, human trafficking and climate change.

More on Nigel’s career

Nigel was based in London between 1998 and 2003. He spent two years on European Union issues (for the UK 1998 EU Presidency and on European Security and Defence questions), before crossing St James’s Park to work for three years as The Assistant Private Secretary to His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales. At St James’s Palace, Nigel worked on international issues, including the management of The Prince of Wales’s overseas visits and tours, on the Commonwealth, interfaith issues, the arts and international development.

Nigel spent much of the early part of his FCO career in Central Europe, after an initial stint as Desk Officer for the Maghreb countries in the Near East and North Africa department (1990-91). Between 1992 and 1996, Nigel served in the British embassies in Prague and Bratislava, the latter being created in 1993 after the peaceful division of Czechoslovakia into the separate Czech and Slovak Republics.

Nigel joined the FCO (Foreign and Commonwealth Office) in September 1989. Between 1996 and 1998 he took a two year academic sabbatical to research and write about themes in 18th century European history, being based in Verona but also researching in Cambridge, Paris and Naples. The research followed from Nigel’s time as a student at Cambridge (1985-88) where he read history and was awarded a First Class Honours degree, followed by his MA in 1992.

Before joining the Foreign Office, Nigel worked briefly for the Conservative Research Department in London at the time of the 1989 European election campaign.

Nigel married Alexandra (Sasha) in 1997. They have one son, Benjamin, born in Bolivia in September 2008.

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