00:00:29
We are here in memory of Sergio Vieira de Mello and the 21 other men and women, most of them UN workers, who died with him in the bombing of the UN Headquarters in Baghdad in August 2003.

00:00:45
We remember all those who died, to acknowledge each valuable life cut short, and the families who share, even today, in their sacrifice. We also remember them for the power of the example they set: brave individuals from 11

00:01:04
different countries, working to help Iraqi people, at the direction of the United Nations Security Council, and on behalf of us all. This is sometimes forgotten: that in serving under the UN flag they died in our names,

00:01:22
as our representatives. At their head was Sergio Vieira de Mello, a man of extraordinary grace and ability, as so many who knew him testify.

00:01:34
A man who gave 30 years to the United Nations, rising from a field officer to High Commissioner for Human Rights and Special Representative to Iraq. From Bangladesh and Bosnia to South Sudan to East Timor, he spent the majority of his

00:01:51
career in the field, working alongside people forced from their homes by war, and assisting them with his skill as a diplomat and negotiator. Perhaps the greatest testament to his contribution, is how much his advice would be valued today.

00:02:11
As the Syrian conflict enters its seventh year, as we live through the gravest refugee crisis since the founding of the United Nations, as 20 million people are on the brink of death from starvation in Yemen, Somalia, South Sudan and northeast Nigeria, I cannot imagine that

00:02:31
there is anyone in the leadership of the United Nations who would not welcome the opportunity to consult Sergio, or send him into the field once more. He is truly missed, even today.

00:02:45
It is humbling for me to speak tonight in the presence of members of Sergio’s family and his former colleagues. I never knew Sergio, but I have stood before the plaque in the place where he died.

00:02:59
I felt profound sadness at the fact that the conflict in Iraq – the source of so much Iraqi suffering to this day - had claimed the lives of men and women whose only intention was to try and improve a desperate situation.

00:03:18
But I also saw clearly the value and nobility of a life spent in service of others. Sergio was a man who never turned down an assignment, no matter how difficult and dangerous - or as others have put it, was “handed one impossible task after another”.

00:03:41
He was a man, to borrow the words of Thomas Paine, whose country was the world, and whose religion was to do good. He will always remain a hero and inspiration to all who follow in his footsteps.

00:03:56
The UN’s work did not end there, in the rubble of the Canal Hotel, 14 years ago. Hundreds of UN staff have served, and continue to, serve in Iraq, as they do from Afghanistan to Somalia, because the task of building peace and security can never be abandoned, no matter

00:04:17
how bleak the situation. My thoughts on Sergio’s life and legacy derive from my 16 years with UNHCR, the Agency he spent so much of his career serving and representing.

00:04:31
But I also speak as a citizen of my country – the United States. I believe all of us who work with the UN preserve this duality. The United Nations is not a country, it is a place where we come together as nations

00:04:50
and people to try to resolve our differences and unite in common action. As a citizen, I find myself looking out on a global environment that seems more troubling and uncertain than at any time in my lifetime.

00:05:09
I imagine many of you may feel the same. We are grappling with a level of conflict and insecurity that seems to exceed our will and capabilities: with more refugees than ever before, and new wars erupting on top

00:05:24
of existing conflicts, some already lasting decades. We see a rising tide of nationalism, masquerading as patriotism, and the re-emergence of policies encouraging fear and hatred of others.

00:05:42
We see some politicians elected partly on the basis of dismissing international institutions and agreements, as if our countries have not benefited from cooperation, but actually been harmed by it.

00:05:56
We hear some leaders talking as if some of our proudest achievements are in fact our biggest liabilities – whether it is the tradition of successfully integrating refugees into our societies, or the institutions and treaties we have built rooted in laws and

00:06:15
human rights. We see nations that played a proud role in the founding of the International Criminal Court withdrawing from it, on the one hand, and on the other, we see arrest warrants for

00:06:30
alleged war crimes issued but not implemented, and other crimes ignored altogether. We see a country like South Sudan ushered by the international community into independence, then largely abandoned – not by the UN agencies and NGOs – but effectively abandoned, without

00:06:53
the massive support they needed to make a success of sovereignty. And we see resolutions and laws on the protection of civilians and the use of chemical weapons, for instance, flouted repeatedly, in some cases under the cover of Security Council

00:07:11
vetoes, as in Syria. Many of these things are not new – but taken together – and in the absence of strong international leadership, they are deeply worrying.

00:07:28
When we consider all this and more, as citizens, what is our answer? Do we, as some would encourage us to think, turn our backs on the world, and hope we can wait for storms to pass?

00:07:45
Or do we strengthen our commitment to diplomacy and to the United Nations? I strongly believe there is only one choice, demanded by reason as well as by conscience, which is the hard work of diplomacy and negotiation and reform of the UN.

00:08:11
This is not to say that that is any way an easy road. And there are reasons people feel insecure today. The level of conflict and lack of solutions combined with the fear of terrorism; the reality

00:08:27
that globalization has bought vast benefits to some but worsened the lot of others; the sense of a disconnect between citizens and governments, or in some countries the lack of governance; the overall feeling that for all our gains in technology and connectedness,

00:08:49
we are less in control of forces shaping our lives – all these factors and more have contributed to a sense of a world out of balance, and there are no easy answers. And despite the millions of people who have lifted themselves out of poverty in our lifetimes,

00:09:10
the difference between the lives of those of us born in wealthy, democratic societies and those born into the slums and refugee camps of the world is a profound injustice. We see it and we know it to be wrong, at a simple human level.

00:09:31
That inequality is contributing to instability, conflict and migration as well as to the sense that the international system serves the few at the expense of the many. But again, what is our answer, as citizens?

00:09:53
Do we withdraw from the world where before we felt a responsibility to be part of solutions? I am a proud American and I am an internationalist. I believe anyone committed to human rights is an internationalist.

00:10:13
It means seeing the world with a sense of fairness and humility, and recognizing our own humanity in the struggles of others. It stems from love of one’s country, but not at the expense of others - from patriotism,

00:10:33
but not from narrow nationalism. It includes the view that success isn’t being better or greater than others, but finding your place in a world where others succeed too.

00:10:46
And that a strong nation, like a strong person, helps others to rise up and be independent. It is the spirit that made possible the creation of the UN, out of the rubble and ruin and 60 million dead of World War Two; so that even before the task of defeating Nazism was

00:11:09
complete, that generation of wartime leaders was forging the United Nations. If governments and leaders are not keeping that flame of internationalism alive today, then we as citizens must.

00:11:24
The challenge is how to restore that sense of balance and hopefulness in our countries, while not sacrificing all we have learnt about the value and necessity of internationalism. Because a world in which we turn our back on our global responsibilities will be a world

00:11:47
that produces greater insecurity, violence and danger for us and for our children. This is not a clash between idealism and realism. It is the recognition that there is no shortcut to peace and security, and no substitute for

00:12:10
the long, painstaking effort to end conflicts, expand human rights and strengthen the rule of law. We have to challenge the idea that the strongest leaders are those most willing to dismiss

00:12:28
human rights on the grounds of national interest. The strongest leaders are those who are capable of pursuing both. Having strong values and the will to act upon them doesn’t weaken our borders or our militaries

00:12:47
– it is their essential foundation. None of this is to say that the UN is perfect. Of course, it is not.

00:12:59
I have never met a field officer who has not railed against its shortcomings, as I imagine Sergio did in his darkest moments. He, like all of us, wanted a UN that was more decisive, less bureaucratic, and that lived

00:13:16
up to its standards. But he never said it was pointless. He never threw in the towel.

00:13:26
The UN is an imperfect organization because we are imperfect. It is not separate from us. Our decisions, particularly those made by the Security Council, have played a part in

00:13:42
creating the landscape we are dealing with today. We should always remember why the UN was formed, and what it is for, and take that responsibility seriously.

00:13:57
We have to recognize the damage we do when we undermine the UN or use it selectively - or not at all - or when we rely on aid to do the job of diplomacy, or give the UN impossible tasks and then underfund it.

00:14:18
For example today, there is not a single humanitarian appeal anywhere in the world that is funded by even half of what is required. In fact it is worse than that.

00:14:33
Appeals for countries on the brink of famine today are 17%, 7%, and 5% funded, for example. Of course, emergency aid is not the long-term answer. No one prefers that kind of aid.

00:14:50
Not citizens of donor countries. Not governments. Not refugees.

00:14:55
They do not want to be dependent. It would be far better to be able to invest all our funds in infrastructure and schools and trade and enterprises.

00:15:07
But let’s be clear, emergency aid has to continue because many states cannot or will not protect the rights of citizens around the world. It is what we spend in countries where we have no diplomacy or our diplomacy is not

00:15:24
working. Until we do better at preventing and reducing conflict, we are doomed to be in a cycle of having to help feed or shelter people when societies collapse.

00:15:40
As another legendary UN leader, who was also killed in the line of duty, Dag Hammerskold, said “Everything will be all right – you know when? When people, just people, stop thinking of the United Nations as a weird Picasso abstraction

00:16:01
and see it as a drawing they made themselves”. The UN can only change if governments change their policies. And if we as citizens ask our governments to do that.

00:16:17
It is moving, if you think about it: We are the future generations envisaged in the UN Charter. When our grandparents resolved to “spare future generations the scourge of war”,

00:16:30
as written in the Charter, they were thinking of us. But as well as dreaming of our safety they also left us a responsibility. President Roosevelt, addressing the US Congress in January 1945, six months before the end

00:16:49
of Second World War, said this: “In the field of foreign policy, we propose to stand together with the United Nations not for the war alone but for the victory for which the war is fought”.

00:17:06
He went on: “The firm foundation can be built- and it will be built. But the continuance and assurance of a living peace must, in the long run, be the work of

00:17:20
the people themselves.” Today, we have to ask ourselves, are we living up to that mission? They gave us that start.

00:17:31
What have we done with it? It is clear to me that we have made huge strides. But our agreements and institutions are only as strong as our will to uphold them today.

00:17:44
And if we do not, for whatever reason, we bequeath a darker and more unstable world to all those who come after us. It is not for this that previous generations shed blood and worked so hard on behalf of

00:18:02
all of us. The memory of those who came before us holds us true to our ideals. Resting unchanging in time, they remind us of who we are and what we stand for.

00:18:22
They give us hope to stay in the fight, as Sergio did, until his last breath. 14 years since his death, there is a stronger need than ever before for us to stay true to the ideals and purposes of the United Nations.

00:18:43
That is what I hope his memory holds us to today. We can’t all be Sergios. But I hope all of us can determine that we shall be a generation that renews its commitment

00:18:56
to “unite our strength to maintain international peace and security”, and “to promote social progress and better standards of life in larger freedom.” But in the final analysis, even if we do not, even if that level of vision eludes us and

00:19:16
we continue to simply manage rather than to try to overcome our generation’s challenges, we have to keep working determinedly and patiently. And you can be certain, as you do, that you follow the example of one of the UN’s finest

00:19:39
sons: and that to do even a little of his good, to apply ourselves to the work he left unfinished, in whatever way we can, is a worthy task for any one of us. Thank you

00:00:00
[Music] you [Applause]

00:00:14
good evening I am truly honored to be here with you tonight and thank you to the foundation for

00:00:23
inviting me and thank you all for sharing in this moment we are here in the memory of Sergio Vieira de Mello and

00:00:32
the 21 other men and women most of them UN workers who died with him in the bombing of the UN headquarters in

00:00:41
Baghdad August 2003 we remember all those who died to acknowledge each valuable life cut short and the families

00:00:53
who share even today in their sacrifice we also remember them for the power of the example they set brave individuals

00:01:03
from 11 different countries working to help the Iraqi people at the direction of the United Nations Security Council

00:01:11
and on behalf of all of us this is sometimes forgotten that in serving under the UN flag they died in our names

00:01:21
as our representatives and at their head Sergio was a man of extraordinary grace and ability as many who knew him will

00:01:33
testify a man who gave 30 years to the United Nations rising from a field officer to High Commissioner for Human

00:01:41
Rights and specially representative to Iraq from Bangladesh to Bosnia to South Sudan to East Timor he spent the

00:01:50
majority of his career in the field working alongside people forced from their homes by war and assisting them

00:01:58
with his skill as a diplomat and a negotiator perhaps the greatest testament to his contribution is how

00:02:06
much his advice would be valued today as the Syrian conflict enters its seventh year as we live through the gravest

00:02:16
refugee crisis since the founding of the United as twenty million people are on the

00:02:22
brink of death from starvation in Yemen Somalia South Sudan and Southeast Nigeria I cannot imagine that there is

00:02:31
anyone in the leadership of the United Nations who would not welcome the opportunity to consult Sergio or to send

00:02:39
him into the field once more he is truly missed it is humbling for me to speak tonight in the presence of members of

00:02:50
Sergio's family and his former colleagues I never knew Sergio but I have stood before the plaque in the

00:02:58
place where he died I felt profound sadness at the fact that the conflict in Iraq the source of so much Iraqi

00:03:07
suffering to this day had claimed the lives of men and women whose only intention was to try to improve a

00:03:14
desperate situation but I also saw clearly the value and nobility of a life spent in service to others Sergio was a

00:03:28
man who never turned down an assignment no matter how difficult and dangerous or his others have put it who handled one

00:03:37
impossible task after another he was a man to borrow the words of Thomas Paine whose country was the world whose

00:03:47
religion was to do good he will always remain a hero and inspiration to all who follow in his footsteps

00:03:55
the UN's work did not end there in the rubble of canal house fourteen years ago hundreds of UN staff have served and

00:04:05
continued to serve in Iraq as they do from Afghanistan to Somalia because the task of building peace and security can

00:04:14
never be abandoned no matter how bleak the situation my thoughts on Sergio's life and legacy derived from my 16 years

00:04:24
with UNHCR the agency he spent so much of his career serving and but I also speak as a citizen from my

00:04:34
country the United States I believe all of us who work with the UN preserve this duality the United Nations is not a

00:04:45
country it is a place where we come together as nations and people to try to resolve our differences and to unite in

00:04:54
common action as a citizen I find myself looking out on a global environment that seems more troubling and uncertain than

00:05:06
any time in my lifetime and I imagine many of you feel the same we are grappling with a level of conflict and

00:05:14
insecurity that seemed to exceed our will and capabilities with more refugees than ever before with new wars erupting

00:05:23
on top of existing conflicts some already lasting decades we see a rising tide of nationalism masquerading as

00:05:33
patriotism and the reimagines of policies encouraging fear and hatred of others we see some politicians elected

00:05:44
partly on the basis of dismissing international institutions and agreements as if our countries have not

00:05:51
benefited from cooperation but actually been harmed by it we hear some leaders talking as if some of our proudest

00:05:59
achievements are in fact our biggest liabilities whether it is the tradition of successfully integrating refugees

00:06:07
into our societies or the institution's and treaties we have built rooted in law and human rights we see nations that

00:06:19
played a role a proud role in the founding of the International Criminal Court withdrawing

00:06:26
from it on the one hand and on the other we see arrest warrants for alleged war crimes issued but not implemented and

00:06:33
other crimes ignored altogether we see a country like South Sudan assured by the international community

00:06:43
into independence and then largely abandoned not by the UN agencies and NGOs but effectively abandoned without

00:06:53
the massive support they need to make a success of sovereignty and we see resolutions and laws on the protection

00:07:00
of civilians and the use of chemical weapons for instance clouded repeatedly and in

00:07:07
some cases under the cover of Security Council vetoes as in Syria many of these things are not new but taken together

00:07:19
and in the absence of strong international leadership they are deeply worrying when we consider this all of

00:07:30
this and more as citizens what is our answer do we as some would encourage us to think turn our backs on the world and

00:07:41
hope that the storm will pass or do we strengthen our commitment to diplomacy and to the United Nations I strongly

00:07:53
believe there is only one choice demanded by reason as well as by conscience which is the hard work of

00:08:05
diplomacy and negotiation and reform of the UN this is not to say that in any way this is an easy road and there are

00:08:17
reasons for people to feel insecure today the level of conflict and lack of solutions combined with the fear of

00:08:25
terrorism the reality that globalization has bought vast benefits to some and worsened the lot for others the sense of

00:08:36
disconnect between citizens and governments or in some countries the lack of governance the overall feeling

00:08:43
that for all our gains in technology and connectedness the less we are in control of forces shaping our lives

00:08:53
all these factors and more have contributed to a sense of a world out of balance and there are no easy answers

00:09:01
and despite the millions of people who have lifted themselves out of poverty in our lifetime the difference between the

00:09:11
lives of those of us born in wealthy democratic societies and those born into slums and refugee camps in the world is

00:09:20
a profound injustice we see it and we know it's wrong at a simple human level that inequality is contributing to

00:09:33
instability conflict and migration as well as to the sense that the international system serves the few at

00:09:43
the expense of the many but again what what is our answer as citizens do we withdraw from the world where before we

00:09:56
felt the responsibility to be part of the solutions I am a proud American and I am an internationalist I believe

00:10:10
anyone committed to human rights is it means seeing the world with a sense of fairness and humility and recognizing

00:10:20
our own humanity in the struggles of others it stems from a love of one's country but not at the expense of others

00:10:30
from patriotism but not from narrow nationalism it includes the view that success isn't being greater than others

00:10:40
but finding your place in a world where others succeed too and that a strong nation like a strong person helps others

00:10:50
to rise up and be independent it is the spirit that made possible the creation of the UN out of the rubble and ruin and

00:11:01
60 million dead of World War two so that even before the task of defeating Nazism was complete

00:11:09
that generation of wartime leaders was forging the UN if governments and leaders are not keeping the flame of

00:11:18
internationalism alive than as citizens we must the challenge is how to restore that sense of balance and hopefulness in

00:11:31
our countries while not sacrificing all we have learned about the value and necessity of internationalism because a

00:11:41
world in which we turn our back on our global responsibilities will be a world that produces greater insecurity

00:11:49
violence and danger for us and for our children this is not a clash between idealism and realism it is the

00:12:03
recognition that there is no shortcut to peace and security no substitute for the long painstaking effort to end conflicts

00:12:14
expand human rights and strengthen the rule of law we have to challenge the idea that the strongest leaders are

00:12:26
those willing to dismiss human rights on the grounds of national interests the strongest leaders are those who are

00:12:35
capable of doing both having strong values and the will to act upon them doesn't weaken our borders or our

00:12:46
militaries it is their essential foundation and none of this is to say that the UN is perfect because of course

00:12:57
we know it is not I have never met a field officer who has not railed against the shortcomings as I imagined as Sergio

00:13:06
did in his darkest moments and he like all of us wanted a UN that was more decisive less bureaucratic and that

00:13:16
lived up to his its standards but he never said it was pointless and he never threw in the towel the UN is an

00:13:27
imperfect organization because we are imperfect it is not separate from us our decisions particularly those made by the

00:13:39
Security Council have played a part in creating the landscape that we are dealing with today we should always

00:13:47
remember why the UN was formed and what it is for and take that responsibility very seriously we have to recognize the

00:13:58
damage we do when we undermined the UN or use it selectively or not at all or when we rely on aid to do the job of

00:14:08
diplomacy or give the UN impossible tasks and then underfund it for example today there is not a single humanitarian

00:14:22
appeal anywhere in the world that is funded even by half of what is required in fact worse than that appeals for

00:14:33
countries on the brink of famine today are 17 percent 7 percent 5 percent funded for example and of course

00:14:45
emergency aid is not the long-term answer no one prefers that kind of aid not citizens of donor countries not

00:14:52
government not refugees they do not want to be independent it would be far better to be able to invest all of our funds in

00:15:01
infrastructure and schools and trade and enterprises but let's be clear emergency aid has to continue because many states

00:15:13
cannot or will not protect the rights of citizens around the world it is what we spend in countries where we have no

00:15:21
diplomacy where our diplomacy is not working and until we do better at preventing and reducing conflicts

00:15:31
we are doomed to be in a cycle of having to help feed or shelter people when societies collapse as another legendary

00:15:42
UN leader who was also killed in the line of duty DAG hammarskjöld said everything will be

00:15:49
all right you know when when people just people stop thinking of the United Nations as a weird Picasso abstraction

00:16:00
and see it as a drawing they make themselves the UN can only change if governments change their policies and if

00:16:10
we as citizens ask governments to do that it is moving if you think about it we are the future generations envisioned

00:16:22
in the UN Charter when our grandparents resolved to spare future generations the scourge of war as written they were

00:16:32
thinking of us but as well as dreaming for our safety they also left us a responsibility President Roosevelt

00:16:43
addressing the US Congress in January 1945 six months before the end of World War two said this in the field of

00:16:53
foreign policy we promise to stand together with the United Nations not for the war alone but for the victory for

00:17:03
which the war was fought and he went on the firm foundation can be built and will be built but the continuance and

00:17:14
assurance of a living peace in the long run must be the work of the people themselves so today we have to ask

00:17:25
ourselves if we are living up to that mission they gave us the start what have we done with it

00:17:33
it is clear to me that we've made huge strides but our agreements and institutions are only as strong as our

00:17:42
will to uphold them if we do not for whatever reason we bequeath a darker more

00:17:49
unstable world to all of those who come after us it is not for this that previous generations shed blood and

00:18:00
worked so hard on behalf of all of us the memory of those who came before us holds us true to our ideals resting

00:18:13
unchanged in time they remind us who we are and what we stand for they give us hope to stay in the fight as Sergio did

00:18:28
until his last breath 14 years since his death there is a stronger need than ever before for us to stay true to the ideals

00:18:40
and purposes of the United Nations that is what I hope his memory holds for us today we cannot all be Sergio's but I

00:18:50
hope all of us can determine that we shall be a generation that renews its commitment to unite our strength to

00:18:58
maintain international peace and security and to promote social progress and better standards of life and larger

00:19:06
freedom but in the final analysis if we do not even if that level of vision eludes us and we continue to simply

00:19:17
manage rather than overcome our generations challenges we just have to keep working determinedly patiently and

00:19:30
you can be certain that as you do that you follow the example of one of the UN's finest sons and that to do even a

00:19:44
little of his good to apply ourselves to the work he left unfinished in whatever way we can is a worthy task

00:19:55
for all of us thank you [Applause] [Music]

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