Representatives of the Brazilian government and other dignitaries joined the United Nations family at its headquarters in Nairobi on Wednesday for the inauguration of the Sergio Vieira de Mello Library.
Mr. Klaus Toepfer, Executive Director, UNEP, Her Excellency Vera Pedrosa of Brazil and Mrs. Anna Tibaijuka, Under-Secretary General and Executive Director, UN-HABITAT unveiling the plaque for the Sergio Vieira de Mello Library
The library, now recognised as an official United Nations Library – the others are in the Geneva and New York – was named in honour of Sergio Vieira de Mello and in recognition of the 243 staff members who have died in the service of the United Nations.
Mr. Vieira de Mello was the Secretary-General’s Special Representative in Iraq when he and 21 United Nations staff members were killed in a bomb blast at the UN headquarters in Baghdad on 19 August 2003.
Anna Tibaijuka, Under Secretary-General of the United Nations and Executive Director of UN-HABITAT, said: “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 realised 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.”
Mr. Vieira de Mello served the UN for several years in the humanitarian field, bringing hope to the populations in many war-ravaged lands. He was an example of dedication and courage in pursuit of the goals of the United Nations
It was Mr. Vieira de Mello’s sense of public service, his willingness to assist the most vulnerable, his desire to empower others and to contribute to the economic development of the countries where he and his colleagues served that inspired the United Nations to name the library after him.
Klaus Toepfer, Director General of the United Nations Office at Nairobi and Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme, said: “Last August we mourned the death of Sergio Vieira de Mello and his colleagues killed in the bomb blast in Baghdad. Today, however, we celebrate his life and the lives of other United Nations staff members who have paid the ultimate price while carrying out their duties and upholding the values of the UN.
"There can be no finer tribute. A library is a centre for learning. If we are to deliver a more tolerant world in which the values of peace and humanity defeat the bullet and the bomb, then we must increase knowledge and learning, particularly for those with little or no access including the poor and women,” he said.
The 1998 bombs at the United States embassies in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam, which killed 250 people and left 5,000 injured, is commemorated in the Garden of Remembrance at the UN’s Africa headquarters in Nairobi, a short stroll from the newly named library.
The library has undergone a complete refurbishing and today provides unrivalled service to the Kenyan public and staff members alike. It houses the collections of several United Nations agencies in Kenya. It is also equipped with 24 computers and provides access to a large range of electronic products and online commercial databases. It provides modern storage facilities for the materials of the agencies. A new library website is also being launched.