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On 11 December 2008, the United Nations General Assembly made history when it adopted the Swedish-sponsored GA Resolution A/63/L.49 on the Strengthening of the Coordination of Emergency Assistance of the United Nations,[1] that amongst other important humanitarian decisions, decided to designate 19 August as World Humanitarian Day (WHD). The Resolution gives, for the first time, a special recognition to all humanitarian and United Nations and associated personnel who have worked in the promotion of the humanitarian cause and those who have lost their lives in the cause of duty and urges all Member States, entities of the United Nations within existing resources, as well as the other International Organizations and Non-Governmental Organizations to observe it annually in an appropriate way. It marks the day on which the then Special Representative of the Secretary-General to Iraq, Sérgio Vieira de Mello and 21 of his colleagues tragically made the ultimate sacrifice in the cause of duty following the bombing of the UN Headquarters in Baghdad.

Contents

History

The designation of 19 August as World Humanitarian Day is the outcome of the relentless efforts of the Sérgio Vieira de Mello Foundation [1] and his family working closely with the Ambassadors of France, Switzerland, Japan and Brazil in both Geneva and New York to table and steer the draft Resolution through the General Assembly. The Foundation conveyed its deep gratitude to the United Nations General Assembly and all Member States for the worthy gesture of recognition that has ensured that the tragic loss of Vieira de Mello and his 21 colleagues and all humanitarian personnel who have made the ultimate sacrifices in relieving the suffering of victims of humanitarian crises have not been in vain.

A national of Brazil, Sérgio Vieira de Mello dedicated a life time spanning over thirty years in the United Nations, serving in some of the most challenging humanitarian situations in the world to reach the voiceless victims of armed conflict, alleviate their suffering and draw attention to their plight. His death together with 21 colleagues on 19 August 2003 in Baghdad, deprived the victims of armed conflict worldwide of a unique humanitarian leader of unmatched courage, drive and empathy who championed their cause fearlessly and etched their plight on the world map. The tragic event also robbed the humanitarian community of an outstanding humanitarian leader and intellectual whose thinking, philosophy, dynamism and courage inspired all and remains a timeless legacy for coming generations to emulate.

Mindful of this legacy, in 2006 the Vieira de Mello family and a group of close friends founded the Sergio Vieira de Mello Foundation [2] dedicated to continue his unfinished mission of encouraging dialogue between communities and relieving the plight of victims of humanitarian crises. The Foundation is dedicated to supporting initiatives and efforts to promote dialogue for peaceful reconciliation and co-existence between peoples and communities divided by conflict through an annual Sergio Vieira Mello Award, an Annual Sergio Vieira Mello Memorial Lecture, a Sergio Vieira de Mello Fellowship and advocating for the security and independence of humanitarian actors, wherever they may be operating and whomever they may be operating for. The Foundation views the World Humanitarian Day as a befitting tribute to all humanitarian personnel who have made the ultimate sacrifices to make the world a better place for all victims of humanitarian crises and an encouragement to all their serving colleagues to aspire to even greater heights in accomplishing that laudable goal.

Commemoration

The Sérgio Vieira de Mello Foundation [3] is committed to working closely with all Governments, the United Nations, International Organizations and Non-Governmental Organizations to give the Word Humanitarian Day a meaningful observance every year. The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs is leading efforts to plan and guide the observance of the Day that will be commemorated world wide by Governments, the United Nations and International Humanitarian Organizations and NGOs. The Day will be commemorated for the first time on 19 August 2009. Details of the organization and the range of events that will mark the Day will be posted in this section as they become available.

See also

References

  1. ^ United Nations General Assembly Resolution A-63-L.49 session 63 World Humanitarian Day on 11 December 2008

External links

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