Humanitarian Profile: Sergio Vieira De Mello

Sérgio Vieira de Mello (1948 – 2003) was a Brazilian diplomat who worked for the United Nations humanitarian and political programs for more than 34 years, eventually becoming the High Commissioner for Human Rights in 2002.

He was born in Rio de Janeiro and studied abroad in Paris and Switzerland.  In 1969 he began his first job as an editor at the offices of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).  During that time, he participated in field work assignments in Bangladesh, during its war of independence in 1971, and Cyprus, after the 1974 Turkish invasion.  He also spent several years promoting peace in Mozambique and Peru, clearing landmines in Cambodia and Yugoslavia.  In 2002 he became the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.

Tragically, Vieira de Mello was killed in a 2003 suicide bombing in Iraq along with 21 other members of his staff.  He was working as the Secretary-General’s Special Representative in Iraq at the time.


Sérgio Vieira de Mello: Obituary from The Economist, August 21 2003

“Chasing the Flame: Sergio Vieira de Mello and the Fight to Save the World” by Samantha Power

Video: TEDTalks: Samantha Power: Shaking hands with the devil

The Sergio Vieira de Mello Foundation

University of Hawaii at Manoa; Center of Excellence in DMHA; ICRC

Contact Information

Disaster Management & Humanitarian Assistance
University of Hawai'i at Manoa
2424 Maile Way, Saunders Hall 118
Honolulu, HI 96822