In these dark times of violence and despair, of wars and genocide, the death of Sergio Vieira de Mello, the Brazilian diplomat, special representative to the UN in Iraq, is an enormous loss in the struggle for peace.
His distinguished career as an experienced and respected diplomat expanded over three decades and his achievements were important in the cause for justice and goodness.
I had the opportunity to meet him during my work with the Cousteau Society. I remember his comments regarding Captain Jacques Cousteau, “He is truly the Quixote of Ecology”. We discussed the urgency to make people understand the need to protect the environment for future generations. Mr. Mello’s remarked, “the ones we need to convince are the decision makers and that is the difficult part”.
In his own right de Mello was also a Quixote fighting for what is just and putting his life on the line in some of the most dangerous trouble spots in the world.
He was an ardent defender of the role of the United Nations in the Iraq crisis. He relied on his previous experience as negotiator and diplomat in Lebanon, Rwanda, Kosovo and East Timor looking for the delicate balance between the UN’s presence in Iraq and the occupying forces.
A couple of days ago a brave journalist was killed in Baghdad “by mistake” by U.S. forces. Ironically, those same forces couldn’t stop a huge truck loaded with explosives from reaching the UN building.
Violence and anarchy run rampant in the occupied Arab nation and more American soldiers are killed or wounded nearly every day. More resources and more troops will be used to stabilized Iraq. But a war started by the U.S. showing its disdain for the UN and the Security Council will not easily reach the peace for which Mr. Mello and other brave UN officials have died this August 19th.
Ruben Arvizu is the Director for Latin America of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation. Presently he is working to establish the Mexican chapter of NAPF.