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De Mello could do nothing to halt the tide of frustration and anger, which
is giving rise to daily attacks on occupation forces. As he noted himself in
one of his final interviews:

"This must be one of the most humiliating periods in history [for Iraqis].
Who would like to see their country occupied? I would not like to see
foreign tanks in Copacabana."

(from item 3 below)


2) Sergio Vieira de Mello, UN Special Representative to Iraq. RIP.

3)  The UN, de Mello and the US occupation of Iraq



Professor Marjorie Cohn
Thomas Jefferson School of Law
JURIST Contributing Editor
But for George W. Bush's illegal and misguided war on Iraq, Sergio Vieira de
Mello, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, would be alive
today. Mr. de Mello devoted most of his life to the U.N.'s mission to
protect human rights and achieve international peace and security. He served
in some of the toughest trouble spots in the world, including Lebanon, East
Timor, Yugoslavia, Peru, Bangladesh, Cyprus, Sudan, Cambodia and Mozambique.

Sergio Vieira de Mello went to Iraq at the request of U.N. Secretary General
Kofi Annan for a four-month humanitarian commitment. One month short of his
return to Geneva, Mr. de Mello was buried alive in rubble from a suicide
truck bomber who targeted the United Nations in Baghdad.

Ignoring the pleas of millions of people around the world and most of the
United Nations members, Bush had persisted in his march to war. Contrary to
Bush's assertions, Saddam Hussein never posed an imminent threat to the
United States. Until Bush unleashed "almost biblical" firepower on Iraq, al
Qaeda was not operating there. Yet since the U.S./U.K. became the occupying
power, Iraq has become fertile ground for outside jihadis.

Many Saudi Arabian Islamists have crossed the border into Iraq to prepare
for a holy war against the U.S./U.K. forces, according to The Financial
Times. The Arab satellite television channel al-Arabiya broadcast a
statement purportedly from al Qaeda, which urged Muslims around the world to
travel to Iraq to fight the U.S. occupation, and claimed that recent attacks
on U.S. forces had been carried out by jihadis.

The blast that killed Mr. de Mello and 19 others, and wounded more than 100
in the U.N. compound in Baghdad Tuesday, was likely the handiwork of the
same forces that bombed the Jordanian embassy in Baghdad 12 days before,
killing 11 people. Osama bin Laden has long decried the United States' role
in the first Gulf War, the punishing sanctions against the people of Iraq,
and the United Nations for "supporting the oppressive, tyrannical and
arrogant America [in Afghanistan] against those oppressed who have emerged
from a ferocious war at the hands of the Soviet Union."

In the twisted minds of the terrorists who likely executed the worst attack
on a U.N. civilian operation in its 58-year history, the United States and
the United Nations are linked. Yet Bush's new doctrine of "preemptive war"
is a clear violation of the U.N. Charter. And in spite of intense pressure
by Bush, including threats and bribes, the members of the Security Council
refused to hand him a resolution sanctioning his war on Iraq. Bush accused
the United Nations of becoming "irrelevant."

When he was sent to Baghdad, it was Sergio de Mello's dream "to assist the
Iraqi people and those responsible for the administration of this land to
achieve . freedom, the possibility of managing their own destiny and
determining their own future." He empathized with the Iraqi people who
resented the foreign occupiers. "It is traumatic," he said. "It must be one
of the most humiliating periods in their history. Who would like to see
their country occupied?" He wanted "to make sure that the interests of the
Iraqi people come first" as they rebuild their country.

Sergio de Mello's death is an unspeakable tragedy for the cause of world
peace. "I can think of no one we could less afford to spare," observed Kofi
Annan. And Salim Lone, Mr. de Mello's spokesman in Baghdad, said, "He was a
wonderful guy. He was the U.N. in a way." Mr. Lone added, "I grieve most of
all for the people of Iraq because he was really the man who could have
helped bring about an end to the occupation. An end to the trauma the people
of Iraq have suffered for so long."

We must emerge from this tragedy by redoubling our support for the United
Nations. As Iraqis, Americans, and many from other countries continue to die
in Iraq, Bush must relinquish control of Iraq to the United Nations. It is
the arrogance of occupation that creates roiling hatred against the
occupier. Mr. de Mello was confident that Iraqis distinguished between the
U.N. and the foreign occupiers. The end of the occupation would empower the
people of Iraq to take control of their own destiny. Then Sergio Vieira de
Mello will not have died in vain.

Marjorie Cohn, a professor of law at Thomas Jefferson School of Law in San
Diego, is executive vice president of the National Lawyers Guild.
August 20, 2003



      August 27, 2003

      Sergio Vieira de Mello, UN Special Representative to Iraq. RIP.

      by Suzanne

      Dear BuzzFlash-

      Sergio Vieira de Mello was beautiful and rare, in every way a man can
be beautiful and rare. He had movie star looks. Tremendous charm, grace and
joie de vivre. The ability to articulate truth with crystalline clarity--in
five languages. He tackled Herculean assignments with enthusiasm, in the
darkest spots of the world, with immense intelligence and aplomb. Like a
magician he created a sense of abundance from scare resources, and amplified
the highest in people, in the lowest of circumstances.

      Mr. Vieira de Mello was a discrete hero. His vast store of qualities
could have been wielded to pile up millions of dollars, if not billions, for
himself. Instead, Mr. Vieira de Mello used his 33 years at the UN to
tirelessly defend human rights around the globe. Including as the UN's High
Commissioner of Human Rights. He worked to bring dignity to savaged
situations, where misery upon misery is piled on the poorest of the poor, by
the richest of the rich. Mr. Vieira de Mello treated the humblest refugee
with the greatest kindness and respect. He believed in the inherent rights
and dignity of all people.

      He was being groomed as the successor to the UN Secretary General, and
would have lit the world with his brilliant spirit in that capacity--had he
lived. He had eight days of service left in his emergency four month stint
in Iraq, when a bomb buried him alive in the rubble that pinned him in great
pain until he died. He'd not wanted to go, but answered the call.

      Mr. de Mello would be alive today were it not for Bush's lies to lead
the world into a phony, illegal and deplorable war. The world has lost a
spiritual giant, and is very much poorer and diminished as a result.

      Suzanne, San Francisco



The UN, de Mello and the US occupation of Iraq
By Peter Symonds
28 August 2003

In the aftermath of the bombing of the UN headquarters in Baghdad, there has
been an outpouring of sanctimonious comment from political leaders and the
international media defending the UN's role in Iraq and eulogising its
special envoy, Sergio Vieira de Mello, who died in the attack.

The UN, it is argued, was simply in Iraq to help the Iraqi people. De Mello
and his staff were engaged in humanitarian relief, not military operations.
This theme was summed up by UN Secretary General Kofi Annan who denounced
the attack on "men and women who went to Iraq for one purpose only: to help
the Iraqi people recover their independence and sovereignty."

Annan's remarks, coming just three months after the UN Security Council
sanctioned the illegal US invasion and occupation of Iraq, are the height of
hypocrisy. Whatever its limited efforts at relieving the suffering of the
population, the UN's overriding function in Iraq has been political: to
legitimise Washington's indefinite subjugation of the country and the
plundering of its oil and other resources.

UN officials were well aware of what the Bush administration wanted the
organisation to do. At a joint press conference in late May following his
appointment as Annan's special representative to Iraq, de Mello
unambiguously declared his attitude to the US occupation: "Working with the
Authority is part of the rules of the game. They are responsible for the
administration of the country until there is a new order."

Throughout his time in Iraq, de Mello openly functioned as a political
emissary for Washington's proconsul in Baghdad, Paul Bremer III-sounding out
Iraqi leaders, soliciting support and acting as a go-between. He had a major
hand in last month's formation of the quisling body known as the Iraqi
Governing Council. When key Shiite leaders threatened to boycott the
council, de Mello and his deputy, former Lebanese culture minister Ghassan
Salam, travelled to southern Iraq to convince them to back down.

De Mello and Salam were largely responsible for repackaging Bremer's
proposed advisory body as "a governing council"-with no significant change
in its function or powers. "We have been very active in the process of
creating the council and more particularly in the defining of tasks," de
Mello proudly declared after its inaugural meeting. He then set out on an
extensive tour of the Middle East-to Saudi Arabia, Iran, Jordan, Kuwait,
Turkey and Syria-in an effort to persuade regional leaders to recognise and
work with the puppet council.

Having helped erect a political framework for US rule in Iraq, de Mello was
due to resume his post as UN High Commissioner for Human Rights. He obtained
the job last September with the backing of the Bush administration which was
openly hostile to his predecessor Mary Robinson. De Mello's willingness to
keep his mouth shut over Washington's flagrant abuses of democratic
rights-with the sole exception of a muted criticism of the illegal detention
of hundreds of detainees at Guantanamo Bay-clearly endeared him to
Washington. Indeed he was even being touted as the future UN Secretary
General after Annan retired.

De Mello's prominent role in Iraq, far from indicating any genuine concern
on the part of the UN for the plight of the Iraqi people, was a measure of
the assignment's political importance and sensitivity. Whoever took the job
was required to dress up an openly neo-colonial occupation in order to
defuse the widespread anger of the Iraqi people and to enlist the support of
competing Iraqi elites, other Middle Eastern governments and US rivals in
Europe and Asia.

De Mello was handed the task for two main reasons. Firstly, he had the
support of the Bush administration. Just prior to his announced appointment,
he flew to Washington for private talks at the White House with President
Bush and National Security Adviser Condolezza Rice. Secondly, de Mello,
probably more than most UN bureaucrats, epitomised the shifting role of the
UN in the 1990s. During that time he made a high profile career out of
providing an acceptable public face for imperialist interventions.

The UN has been a den of imperialist intrigue ever since its formation in
1945. Throughout the Cold War, however, the existence of the Soviet Union
remained an obstacle to the predatory interests of the major powers. In its
relations with Asia, Africa and Latin America, Washington was compelled to
wheel and deal with the Stalinist bureaucrats in Moscow and to recognise, in
form at least, the principle of national sovereignty. The UN served as a
useful clearinghouse for mediating these Cold War relations.

But in the 1990s, the collapse of the Soviet Union ended these constraints.
Driven by profound economic contradictions, the US and its rivals
increasingly turned to direct military intervention to secure their
interests. In the name of humanitarian concerns, national independence and
sovereignty have been trampled upon. And in what has been cynically termed
"ethical imperialism," the UN has performed the critical function of
providing the "ethical" gloss for ever-more naked neo-colonial ambitions.

Nowhere have these political processes been as evident as in Iraq. Seizing
on the invasion of Kuwait as the pretext, all the major and minor powers
backed the US-led Gulf War in 1990-91 as a means of legitimising their own
colonial adventures. As the International Committee of the Fourth
International explained at the time: "The proceedings at the United Nations,
that rather seedy centre of imperialist debauchery, were as dignified as
those of a military brothel, with scores of bourgeois diplomats lining up
outside the doors of the Security Council to 'get in on the act'...
Underlying the broad participation in this coalition was the unstated
understanding that the war against Iraq would legitimise a revival of
colonial policy by all the imperialist powers" [Oppose Imperialist War and
Colonialism! Manifesto of the ICFI, page 3].

A political troubleshooter for imperialism

It was in this political climate that De Mello's career flourished. The son
of a senior Brazilian diplomat, de Mello's entire working life, after
graduating from the Sorbonne University in Paris, was spent as a UN
functionary. He started with the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)
in Geneva and rose through its ranks by acting as its on-the-spot
representative in a number of areas of sharp political conflict, including
East Pakistan/Bangladesh 1971-72 in the immediate aftermath of India's
invasion; Cyprus 1975-77 following the Turkish invasion; and Mozambique
1975-77 in the midst of independence and civil war.

De Mello proved his adaptability when he was assigned in 1981-83 as senior
political adviser to the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL). Initially
established in 1978 to supervise the withdrawal of the Israeli troops that
had invaded southern Lebanon, UNIFIL rapidly became little more than the
humanitarian face for a permanent occupation force when the Israeli army
reinvaded in 1982, attacked Beirut and unleashed a brutal massacre of 2,000
Palestinians in the refugee camps of Sabra and Shatilla. De Mello functioned
as the intermediary between the Israeli army, its fascistic militia allies
and a hostile population.

In the 1990s, de Mello rose to prominence as one of the UN's top political
figures. In 1991-92, he played a major role in implementing the settlement
to end the long-running civil war in Cambodia. This was the first in a
series of aggressive imperialist interventions in which the principle of
national sovereignty was openly cast aside. Anxious to end the destablising
influence of the civil war and to open up Cambodia as a source of cheap
labour, the major powers pressured the rival Cambodian factions into
agreeing to hand power to a UN Transitional Authority in Cambodia (UNTAC)
which would supervise a power-sharing arrangement and future elections.

De Mello was appointed special envoy of the UN High Commissioner for
Cambodia in December 1991 and given the task of laying the political
groundwork for the formation of UNTAC the following year. He headed the
advance party of 1,500 military and civilian personnel, which rapidly
swelled to over 20,000 when UNTAC was established. While too junior to head
the UN body, de Mello nevertheless stayed on as director of refugee
repatriation and in charge of mine clearance. A decade after the UNTAC
intervention, Cambodia is as poor and politically unstable as it was in
1991-but it is open for business to foreign investors.

De Mello's role as a senior UNHCR official was no small factor in the
growing demand for his services. Throughout the 1990s, the plight of
refugees increasingly became one of the main political pretexts for
imperialist intervention in the Balkans, Africa and Asia. In this new era of
"ethical imperialism," de Mello was an ideal front man. He combined good
looks and charm with a certain political adroitness and ruthlessness that
were all put to good use by his paymasters: the UN and the major powers.

In 1993, he was sent to the Balkans as the delegate in Bosnia Herzogovina
for the Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for the former
Yugoslavia. Having provoked the breakup of Yugoslavia by recognising first
Slovenia and Croatia then Bosnia Herzogovina, the major powers were
determined to exploit the ethnic violence they had helped to instigate to
further their own interests in this key strategic region. The UN provided
the overarching framework for the intervention of NATO troops from the US
and Europe.

The United Nations Protective Force (UNPROFOR) originally established to
manage three areas of Croatia was extended in 1992 to Bosnia Herzegovina.
Its size was increased by 1995 to nearly 40,000 military personnel who were
assigned to enforce a ban on all military flights over Bosnia Herzegovina
and supervise safe areas around Sarajevo and five other towns. In 1994, de
Mello as head of Civil Affairs for UNPROFOR lay the political basis for the
1995 Dayton Accord, which transformed Bosnia Herzegovina into a new kind of
semi-colonial entity run by a High Representative imposed by the US and the

In 1995, de Mello returned to UNICEF Headquarters in Geneva where he was
elevated to the key post of Director of Policy Planning and Operations. He
had particular responsibilities for the refugees in the Commonwealth of
Independent States (CIS)-that is, the masses of people left destitute by the
break-up of the former Soviet Union. He also oversaw UN operations in
Central Africa in the midst of civil strife that erupted in Rwanda. In 1998,
he was rewarded with the post of Under Secretary General for Humanitarian
Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator at the UN Headquarters in New York.

Neo-colonial governor

But de Mello's most critical role was played in three key arenas-Kosovo,
East Timor and Iraq.

In June 1999, he was installed in Kosovo as Special Representative of the
Secretary General-an interim administrator with full powers to establish and
preside over a new civilian authority in the province of Yugoslavia. In what
was to become the modus operandi for subsequent interventions, the US and EU
had whipped up a hysterical media campaign based on lies and half-truths.
Wildly exaggerated claims of systematic killings of ethnic Albanians by the
Yugoslav army and Serb militia were used to justify a massive bombardment of
Yugoslav cities and towns. As later, more sober reports indicated, the
greatest loss of life in Kosovo and the largest waves of refugees were the
result of the NATO bombing campaign, not the activities of the Yugoslav

The UN subscribed to and promulgated all of Washington's falsifications
without a murmur of criticism, legitimising the NATO takeover of Kosovo.
Again de Mello was the political trailblazer. In May 1999, before the
hostilities were over, he led a 12-day mission of UN agencies into Kosovo.
While the UN insisted that the mission was "purely humanitarian," it lay the
basis for a complete takeover of civilian functions. Like the High
Representative in Bosnia Herzegovina, de Mello filled the role of a colonial
governor resting on the military might of some 50,000 NATO and Russian
troops occupying the province. As head of the UN Interim administration in
Kosovo (UNMIK), he wielded power over the police and judiciary as well as UN
officials at the district and municipal level. Along with NATO, he bears
responsibility for the vicious campaign of violence by the thugs of the
Kosovo Liberation Army which led to the expulsion of tens of thousands of
Serbs and Gypsies from the province.

Having laid the political basis for continuing NATO domination of Kosovo, de
Mello was installed just months later as UN Transitional Administrator in
East Timor (UNTAET)-a post he held until formal independence was granted to
the half island in May 2002. Like the NATO war on Yugoslavia, the
"humanitarian" justification for the Australian-led military intervention
into East Timor was completely manufactured. Canberra was well aware of the
attacks that the Indonesian military and its militia were preparing to
unleash on pro-independence supporters in East Timor but cynically
calculated that the violence would provide the necessary pretext for plans
being drawn up for the deployment of Australian troops. Far from acting out
of concern for the plight of the East Timorese, the Howard government's
primary motive was to counter renewed Portuguese claims in its former colony
and to secure control over the lucrative Timor Gap oil and gas reserves.

In all the media obituaries, de Mello's reign in East Timor is counted as
his greatest triumph. What he left behind, however, is a tiny state which is
completely dependent politically, economically and militarily on the major
powers and whose population remains mired in poverty. De Mello's legacy in
East Timor is an unrepresentative regime installed with scant regard for the
democratic rights of the East Timorese. The vast majority of people,
particularly the youth, are unemployed and have no prospects of a job. Under
de Mello, the limited social services available under Indonesian rule were
slashed, leaving large sections of the population without adequate access to
health, education and other basic services.

In the eyes of the major powers, de Mello's great achievement was that amid
this deepening social and economic disaster he created the illusion of
peace, progress and independence. Behind the fašade, the UN still exercises
key functions in "independent" East Timor, the Australian-dominated military
force remains and Canberra has managed to bludgeon the Dili government into
ceding control over the lion's share of the Timor Gap gas reserves to

The US-led invasion of Iraq represented a turning point for the United
Nations. It brought to the surface in the Security Council deep-going
tensions between the US and Europe over their interests in the Middle East
and internationally. Although the UN did not put the final seal of approval
on the US invasion, by passing resolution 1441, it nevertheless legitimised
the lie upon which the war was based: that Iraq had an arsenal of nuclear,
chemical and biological weapons that posed an imminent threat to the world.
After the event, the UN stepped in to endorse what was an illegal and
preemptive war of aggression that had cost the lives of thousands, if not
tens of thousands, of Iraqi civilians. The UN's willingness to do so exposed
its utter worthlessness in the eyes of millions of people around the world
who took to the streets to protest the war.

Having sanctioned the US occupation, the UN sent its top troubleshooter to
Iraq to repeat what he had done during the previous decade. But in the case
of Iraq, the population had already suffered 12 years of bitter experiences
of the UN acting on behalf of the US and its allies. The UN had supervised
the devastating economic sanctions that are estimated to have cost the lives
of hundreds of thousands of Iraqi civilians-men, women and children. Its
offices in Baghdad were the operational centre for the UN weapons inspection
teams and the intrigues that were used to justify one US military
provocation after another against Iraq.

De Mello was able to use his political skills, honed throughout the 1990s,
to cajole, badger and bully various Iraqi politicians, religious leaders and
emigres into forming a Governing Council as a front for the US occupation.
But the illusion remained precisely that. De Mello could do nothing to halt
the tide of frustration and anger, which is giving rise to daily attacks on
occupation forces. As he noted himself in one of his final interviews: "This
must be one of the most humiliating periods in history [for Iraqis]. Who
would like to see their country occupied? I would not like to see foreign
tanks in Copacabana."

But for all de Mello's efforts to cultivate a caring image, the UN was and
is broadly viewed by Iraqis as a tool of the US occupation. The bombing of
its headquarters in Baghdad is a sign that the 60-year period in which the
UN could function as a cloak for the intrigues of the major powers is
rapidly coming to an end. Instead of regarding the UN as an agency for
peace, justice and social inequality, millions of Iraqis, along with many
others around the world, are coming to see the UN for what it is: a dirty
accomplice in the crimes of imperialism.

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