Ban Ki-moon's speeches

Remarks at the screening of the award-winning documentary "Sergio Vieira de Mello: En Route to Baghdad"

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, UN Headquarters, 24 March 2008

I am pleased to welcome all of you for what promises to be a deeply moving event.

I never had the privilege of working with Mr. Sergio Vieira de Mello, but I know from all those who did that he was an extraordinary diplomat and a remarkable human being. His death was a profound loss not only to his family and his colleagues, but to the whole United Nations Organization itself. Everything I know of him tells me that he was a paragon among United Nations envoys.

Although he was a legend among UN staff, he never let it go to his head, and he never forgot that he represented the whole United Nations. He took particular care that national counterparts saw him as the face of the United Nations, not just as an individual representative or envoy.

He maintained a constant dialogue with the leadership of the country he served. He did the same with everyone in the UN team -- both his immediate staff, and the larger United Nations presence. He discussed not only what they can do to help his work, but also how he can help them in theirs.

He led by example and his team looked to him to set the standard in integrity, transparency, accountability and ethics.

He did not expect or strive to win popularity contests -- either with his own staff or with the people of the country he served. But he did strive to earn their respect.

He was prepared to make sacrifices and knew that honour and diligence often come at the expense of pleasure and personal well-being.

Above all, he always remembered that he was there to serve people and nations in need. He was there to support them -- and not to act in their place.

Sergio Vieira de Mello’s death left a void in our Organization that may never be filled. His friends will never forget him, his colleagues can never replace him. His legacy will always be remembered, as he will be always watching us and how we carry out his unfinished missions.

What all of us can and must do is to carry on his legacy. That is the only way we can truly honour a man who loved life so much that he risked his own so that others could have the chance to live.

The film we are about to see is a tribute to that remarkable man. Ms. Duarte, thank you very much -- I’d like to express my appreciation on behalf of all my colleagues for your labour of love. You have captured all our hearts by capturing Sergio Vieira de Mello just as we remember him. And I know that we will all leave this room re-energized and rededicated to the struggle that Sergio Vieira de Mello lived for, and died for. He left us to complete what he had been doing.

Thank you very much, and I hope you enjoy the film.