23 September 2003




NEW YORK, 22 September (UN Headquarters) -- The following remarks were made by Secretary-General Kofi Annan on Friday, 19 September, in introducing Gilberto Gil, Brazilian Cultural Minister, at a concert to mark the International Day of Peace and to honour colleagues killed in the bombing of the United Nations mission in Baghdad:


Good evening and thank you very much for coming. This has been a deeply emotional day for the United Nations family.


We have gathered to grieve and pay tribute to beloved friends and colleagues whom we lost in Baghdad one month ago. That we have also come together to celebrate the International Day of Peace lends special significance to this tribute. If there is one thing that unites all of us here, and evokes the spirit of our fallen colleagues, it is our commitment to peace and human dignity.


Tonight, we are blessed in having with us someone who can do justice to all the complex feelings we are experiencing today –- someone who can lift us all out of our sorrow. I can think of no one better suited to do this than Gilberto Gil.


An artist with a conscience, an activist with a gift, Gilberto has given the world a kind of music that seeks to empower people as much as it moves them. As politician and performer, as musician and Minister of Culture, he has spoken up for human rights, social justice and environmental protection -– and above all, for the movement to bring culture closer to all the people.


Always lyrical, often critical, Gilberto’s voice has been heard and loved over the course of four decades by millions around the globe. When I was in Brazil a few weeks ago, on the sad occasion of the memorial service for Sergio [Vieira] de Mello, Gilberto was gracious enough to agree to come here tonight to pay tribute to his compatriot, as well as to the other dear friends we lost in Baghdad.


Gilberto, I am deeply grateful to you for giving us your time and talent to lift the spirits of our saddened United Nations family.


There have been far too many tears around lately -– tears in this house, in the capitals and among the families of those we have lost. But it is time to move on. Those we lost were full of love, full of life, and they would want us to share joy. Think of Sergio, think of Nadia [Younes]: they would want us to laugh and to enjoy life. We will do that with this music tonight.


Perhaps we should learn something from our East Timorese friends, who say, “tomorrow begins today”.


Que comença o show.


Muito obrigado. It’s very good to know that there are people in this hall who understand Portuguese. [laughter]


Thank you very much.




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