10 June 2005

Secretary-General, at Film Screening, Says Sergio Vieira de Mello’s ‘Legacy of Light’ Will Inspire Peacemakers for Generations to Come

NEW YORK, 9 June (UN Headquarters) -- Following are UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s remarks at the screening of En Route to Baghdad in New York, 8 June:

People in many countries, on almost every continent, remember Sergio Vieira de Mello as someone who was there to help them in their hour of greatest need.

For us in the United Nations, Sergio’s work epitomized everything our Organization stands for.

He dealt willingly with the most daunting challenges. He undertook the most uncomfortable assignments. He tackled the toughest missions.

He had the diplomatic skill, insight, compassion and commitment to make local communities true partners in the work of the United Nations on the ground.

There has probably never been a time in world affairs when the international community was in greater need of Sergio’s qualities, character and courage than it is today.

In the outpouring of tributes since Sergio’s death, people may risk losing sight of the fact that Sergio was first and foremost a human being.

Yet it was precisely Sergio’s human side that made him what he was. He was an unbelievably caring person. He had doubts and listened to the advice of others. He was approachable and accessible to everyone. He left a big void among friends and colleagues in the United Nations family.

So we are privileged in many ways that a filmmaker as gifted as Simone Duarte has chosen to immortalize Sergio’s life and work.

Thank you, Ms. Duarte, for using your talent and your tenacity to pay tribute to Sergio. I know you had to overcome a number of challenges to do so. Judging by how the film has already been embraced around the world, it will do a great deal to help keep Sergio’s legacy alive.

It is a legacy of light, which will inspire humanitarians, peacekeepers, peacemakers, and peacebuilders for generations to come.

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