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UN library named in honour of Sergio Vieira de Mello

Remembering Sergio Vieira de Mello and other fallen UN Colleagues

United Nations Library, Nairobi to be named in honour of late Special Representative

Nairobi, 30 June 2004 – On Wednesday 30 June, representatives of the Brazilian government and other dignitaries will join the United Nations family at its headquarters here in Nairobi, to participate in the launch of the Sergio Vieira de Mello Library.

The Library, now recognized as an official United Nations Library – the others are in the Geneva and New York offices – is being 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 in Baghdad on 19 August 2003.

Mr. Vieira de Mello served the Organization 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. The recognition of the service of this staff member and other colleagues who have died as they carried out the mandate of the Organization, is appropriate.

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 Organization to name this library in his memory. The services that will be provided to users will broaden the range of knowledge available to them in various disciplines.

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.

Mr. Toepfer added that the commemoration of the Library was part of a tradition in which the UN remembers not only staff members, but also members of the public who have been victims of terrorist attacks.

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 Gigiri site, a short stroll from the newly named Library.

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 realized 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.”

The library facilities at the Nairobi duty station have undergone complete refurbishing and today provide unrivalled service to the Kenyan public and staff members alike. The upgrading of the facilities also underscores the importance of this duty station.

Today, this Library houses the collections of several United Nations agencies in Kenya. It is a vital tool for bridging the knowledge gap in the local community and is a capacity-building mechanism of the Organization. Here in Nairobi, users have access to thousands of electronic journals in various fields simply by accessing them on the computers. It is anticipated that in the future the Sergio Vieira de Mello Library will respond to the needs of the public as a repository of information for a much wider audience.

The motto of the Library is ‘Information for development: bringing information closer to people’. The improved services are an effective response to the Secretary-General’s call to bring people closer to the United Nations.

The Library 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 at: http://www.unep.org/library or http://www.unhabitat.org/library

UNEP News Release 2004/30

For more information, please contact: Nick Nuttall, UNEP Head of Media, Tel: +254 20 623084, Mobile: +254 733 632755, E-mail: nick.nuttall@unep.org or Serge Bounda, Librarian; tel: +254 20 623105, Mobile: 254 0733 524 738; E-mail: serge.bounda@unep.org, Anne Fraser, Information Management Officer, Tel: +254 20 624229; E-mail: Anne.Fraser@unhabitat.org

Notes to Editors: The launch programme will begin at 1.30 p.m. (programme available).

Entry to the UN Library is on a first come, first-served basis. Proper identification must be provided to UN Security staff and each user is allowed computer facilities for up to two hours. Further access on any given day depends on availability of a computer.

The Library has a Periodical room. Current journals and magazines are available. There is a staff library with a collection of books for recreational reading.

The UN Press Centre and Radio and Television studios are also housed in this building.

Funding for the renovation of the Library facilities was provided by (UNDP, UNEP, UNFCU, UN-HABITAT and UNON.

In May, a draft resolution was adopted by the United Nations Committee on Information, supporting the creation of a United Nations Library in Nairobi and urging all UN offices here to participate in and support this venture.




Further Resources

Sergio Vieira de Mello Library

Statement by Mrs. Anna Kajumulo Tibaijuka , Executive Director, UN-HABITAT

Statement by Mr. Klaus Toepfer, Executive Director, UNEP


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