Russian memorial to slain UN Iraq envoy unveiled in Geneva
GENEVA, June 29 (UNHCR) - Former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan has unveiled a bronze bust in Geneva of peace-keeping veteran Sergio Vieira de Mello, who was killed four years ago during a terrorist attack in Baghdad.
Some 200 people, including survivors of the attack, gathered on Thursday afternoon outside the Palais Wilson to honour de Mello and 21 other people killed during the August 19, 2003 bombing.
The Brazilian, who started his UN career with the UN refugee agency, was serving as the Secretary-General's special representative in Iraq at the time, while also holding the post of UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.
The memorial bust - a gift from Russia's Ministry of Foreign Affairs - was created by Georgian artist and philanthropist Zurab Tseretelli. It rests upon a base that carries the names of all those killed in the blast.
"Sergio had many friends and many admirers to put it mildly, as did all those who died on that terrible August day four years ago," Annan said, after unveiling the work of art beside the historic building that houses the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.
Louise Arbour, who succeeded de Mello as High Commissioner for Human Rights, also paid tribute to the dead. "This memorial must serve not only as a tribute to their remarkable lives. It must also inspire us to complete the work in which they were engaged and in the course of which they lost their lives," she said.
De Mello began his United Nations career in 1969, joining the UN refugee agency in Geneva. He later served the agency in a number of posts in Africa, Latin America, Europe, and Asia before taking up senior positions on behalf of the UN Secretary-General, serving as the world body's Emergency Relief Coordinator and High Commissioner for Human Rights.
Among his notable achievements were his work in post-conflict Cambodia, Rwanda, Kosovo and East Timor.
Attendants at Thursday's ceremony included members of the families of de Mello and other victims, diplomats and representatives of non-governmental organizations and the UN, including High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres.