image Je fais un don

Paris, 16 August 2023

From Dr Shimon Samuels, Wiesenthal Centre Director for International Relations

To: Mme Tatiana Valovaya, Director General of the United Nations, Geneva
Mr Volker Türk, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Geneva
Mr Anne Willem Bijleveld, Chair of the Sergio Vieira de Mello Foundation
Ambassadors, families and survivors of the 19 August 2003 terror attack against the UN headquarters in Iraq

On 12 May 2003, I invited Sergio Vieira de Mello, as UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, to our Centre’s “International Conference on Educating for Tolerance - the Case of Resurgent Antisemitism”, opened by then UNESCO Director-General Kōichirō Matsuura.

Sergio was naturally charismatic and his speech was full of the enthusiasm necessary to tackle the challenges ahead and succeed in promoting dialogue and human dignity. After his words, I accompanied him to his car. Three months later, he met his death in Baghdad.

For us – as for many within the UN community – this was a huge loss.

A short while after, I received an invitation to a meeting in Warsaw on “The Future of Europe”. Apparently, Sergio had beforehand suggested my name as key speaker.

The moving Netflix biopic “Sergio” recounts his life from a young Brazilian to a global diplomat for the good.

The Wiesenthal Centre Commends your Memorial this week.

May Sergio and the other 22 victims of terror rest in peace... and be examples, for those who follow in their footsteps, to distinguish the darkness from the light!

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