the occasion of the official launch of the
United Nations Sergio Vieira de Mello Library at Nairobi
Wednesday, 30 June 2004
United Nations – Gigiri Nairobi
Mrs. Anna Kajumulo Tibaijuka
Under-Secretary-General of the UN
Executive Director, UN-HABITAT
The Honourable Minister and Distinguished Guests from Brazil who
are with us today,
The Director-General of UNON and Executive Director of UNEP, Dr.
The UNDP Resident Coordinator in Kenya , Mr. Paul Andre de la Porte,
Ladies and Gentlemen:
Sergio Vieira de Mello was both a man of learning and a man of
action who gave his life in service to humanitarian values and world
Iraq was but the last of many dangerous assignments undertaken
by Sergio in the name of the United Nations. He clearly understood
the delicate nature of the UN's mission in Iraq , and he told the
Security Council in July 2003: "The United Nations presence
in Iraq remains vulnerable to any who would seek to target our organisation."
As many of you may know, UN-HABITAT implemented major programmes
in Iraq and therefore had the privilege and honour to work closely
with Sergio. We benefited greatly from his experience and guidance
while he was posted to Baghdad .
The death of Sergio Vieira de Mello robbed the world of a calm
voice of reason, humanity and deep intelligence precisely when these
qualities are most needed.
In naming the United Nations Library in Nairobi after Sergio Vieira
de Mello, we are not only paying tribute to an exemplary and outstanding
colleague, but we are honouring an intellectual spirit that sought
reasoned solutions to humanity's most intractable problems.
I can think of no better way in which to express our gratitude
to this son of Brazil than by dedicating the United Nations Library
in Nairobi to his memory.
Libraries are the highest expression of our humanity, allowing
us to build our future upon the achievements and accumulated knowledge
of those who have inhabited this planet before us.
For a global organization like UN-HABITAT, libraries everywhere
play a vital role. In our field, the library is central to the process
of research and learning, helping all who are engaged in sustainable
urban development and shelter keep abreast of the latest ideas and
Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen,
Sergio Vieira de Mello and I were both appointed to our posts by
the General Assembly at the same time in 2002 – he as High Commissioner
for Human Rights and I as Under-Secretary-General. Upon assumption
of my duties here in Nairobi , one of my first decisions was to
revive the library function at UN-HABITAT.
The opportunity to provide common library services with other Nairobi-based
agencies, particularly UNEP, headed by my good friend and colleague,
Klaus Toepfer, was most welcome. This library will allow us to provide
quality and cost effective services to our staff members as well
as to share our knowledge bases with each other and with the wider
community of African researchers.
This library is a fitting tribute to Sergio Vieira de Mello, a
man who was deeply committed to bringing peace to all regions the
world. Given his work as the United Nations Regional Humanitarian
Coordinator for the Great Lakes Region of Africa, and in Mozambique
, I feel that he would be particularly pleased that this library
will benefit Africans. More than most, he realized how important
it is to develop the people of the continent in order to ensure
a peaceful future. In today's world, I feel sure that the physical
location of the library will not limit the service that can be provided.
This library will greatly benefit the East African region and beyond.
In dedicating this United Nations Library – the Sergio Vieira de
Mello Library – may each of us sustain the memory of Sergio Vieira
de Mello and share his commitment to human rights and the betterment
of this world.