New York, NY, August 19, 2003 … The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) mourns the loss of Sergio Vieira de Mello, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights. In a letter to U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan, the League called Mr. Vieira de Mello's death in the terrorist bombing of U.N. Headquarters in Baghdad, "a huge loss to the international community."
The following is the text of the letter to the Secretary General from Glen A. Tobias, ADL National Chairman, and Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director:
Sergio Vieira de Mello was an extraordinary public servant. He believed strongly in the United Nations system and mission and was an effective advocate on its behalf.
We met Mr. Vieira de Mello following his appointment as High Commissioner for Human Rights when he reached out to ADL and other Jewish organizations in order to hear our concerns about the UN Human Rights Commission. Mr. Vieira de Mello heard our complaints about perceptions of the Commission's bias towards Israel and its silence on anti-Semitism and pledged to us that while we might disagree on policy and approach, he would be accessible and open to our views. He declared his full commitment to the fight against intolerance and xenophobia.
In the past year, we contacted him on a number of occasions regarding various resolutions or statements in the Human Rights Commission. As promised, while we did indeed disagree with much of the proceedings in the Commission, Mr. Vieira de Mello was always open to and respectful of our views and concerns.
We extend our condolences to the families and friends of the victims of this heinous act, and to the entire United Nations community.