New York

28 October 2003

Secretary-General's remarks at the memorial ceremony for Prince Sadruddin Aga Khan

Today, we celebrate the life of a statesman in the truest sense of the word. Cosmopolitan and compassionate, caring and charismatic, Prince Sadruddin Aga Khan was one of the world's natural international civil servants.

Blessed with a unique grasp of multicultural complexities, Prince Sadruddin played an outstanding role as mediator, facilitator and leader. By focusing on the protection of refugees, he represented the moral and compassionate side of the international community. By speaking up on behalf of the forcibly displaced, he ensured that alleviation of their plight was the shared responsibility of all humankind.

At a time when the world was experiencing the aftershocks of decolonization and the tensions of the Cold War, he became the youngest and longest-serving High Commissioner for Refugees. He also served the United Nations with distinction in a series of other positions, including as Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Iraq and Afghanistan.

Wherever he went, and whatever his mission, his view of the world was always truly global. He combined respect for humankind with concern for our environment. He worked on behalf of the poor and dispossessed, while celebrating humanity through culture and art.

Today, I offer my deepest respects and condolences to Prince Sadruddin's wife, Princess Catherine Aleya Aga Khan, and to the rest of his family. They should know that Sadruddin was a role model to many of us, and that his example will continue to inspire new world citizens for several generations to come. I join his many, many friends, colleagues and admirers around the world in giving thanks for his remarkable life.