Statement of United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, António Guterres, on passing away of U.S. Senator Edward Kennedy

Geneva, Wednesday, 26 August 2009

Throughout his life, Senator Kennedy was a tireless advocate for refugees - among the most vulnerable people in the world.

For nearly five decades in the United States Senate, Senator Kennedy fought for legislation improving the treatment of refugees and asylum-seekers and reducing the discrimination to which they could be subject. His efforts have benefitted millions of individuals from all over the world forced to seek shelter and protection outside their homelands.

Senator Kennedy's life is a testimony to the difference a single policy-maker can make. As an advocate for the persecuted and displaced, Senator Kennedy could expect no reward for his efforts. He did what he did from the conviction that it was the right thing to do - and wholly in line with the great American tradition of providing help and hope to those who have suffered from injustice and war.

Year after year, conflict after conflict, Senator Kennedy kept the plight of refugees on the international and national agenda, promoting policies and laws that saved and shaped countless lives. The world is diminished by his passing. But we will always have his example to inspire us.