Annan names UN human rights chief as Special Representative for Iraq

Annan names UN human rights chief as Special Representative for Iraq

Sergio Vieira de Mello
United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan has chosen Sergio Vieira de Mello, the UN’s top human rights official, to serve as his Special Representative in Iraq for a four-month period, according to a letter released today at UN Headquarters in New York.

“I am taking the unusual step of appointing Mr. Vieira de Mello, presently the United Nations High Commissioner of Human Rights, for this short-term assignment in Iraq, in view of his unique experience in serving the United Nations in post-conflict situations in the past,” Mr. Annan wrote in his letter to the President of the UN General Assembly.

The Secretary-General added that the Security Council has entrusted the United Nations with “a vital role in providing humanitarian relief, assisting the reconstruction of Iraq and the establishment of national and local institutions of governance.”

Mr. Vieira de Mello, a 55-year-old Brazilian, has had a long and distinguished UN career stretching over 30 years. Before being appointed the human rights post in 2002, he was the UN Transitional Administrator in East Timor and prior to that briefly held the position of Special Representative in Kosovo. He has extensive Headquarters and field experience in humanitarian and peacekeeping operations, including in Bangladesh, Sudan, Cyprus, Mozambique, Peru and Lebanon.

During Mr. Vieira de Mello’s absence, his deputy, Bertie Ramcharan, will serve as Officer-in-Charge of the Geneva-based Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.

The nomination follows the Security Council’s adoption last week of a resolution that includes among the Special Representative’s duties "working intensively with the Authority (the United States and its partners), the people of Iraq, and others concerned to advance efforts to restore and establish national and local institutions for representative governance, including by working together to facilitate a process leading to an internationally recognized, representative government of Iraq."