The Film

Left to right:
East Timor
A woman holds a child, a man and others are in the background.
Shot from above, a group of children and Moslem women in scarves crowd around an unseen object.
Children sit in a classroom setting smiling.

“He is one of those that I had thought someday would be in the job I’m in.” 
—UN Secretary General Kofi Annan

“[Sergio Vieira de Mello] left not just admirers and fans and friends, but he’s left real live human beings who have directly benefited from his work. And they’re all to be found in different parts of the world.”
—Jahanshah Assadi, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Representative

(In Order of Appearance)

Kofi Annan, UN secretary-general
Ghassan Salamé, senior political advisor, Iraq
Richard Holbrooke, former U.S. ambassador to the UN
Ahmad Fawzi, UN spokesperson, Iraq
Jonathan Prentice, special assistant, Iraq
Kofi Asomani, director, UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs Internal Displacement Unit
Dennis McNamara, UN special advisor
Bernard Kouchner, UN representative, Kosovo / founder, Doctors Without Borders
Barbara Hendricks, UN High Commission on Human Rights goodwill ambassador
Ricardo Rangel, photographer, Mozambique
João Baptista Cosme, former secretary for international cooperation, Mozambique
Annie Vieira de Mello, widow of Sergio Vieira de Mello
Abdul Carimo, Institute for Peace and Democracy, Mozambique
Anne-Willem Bijleveld, UN High Commission on Human Rights deputy representative, Mozambique
Isolda Matola, widow of Vieira de Mello's driver in Mozambique
Graça Machel, former Mozambique Minister of Education
Joaquim Chissano, president of Mozambique
Emilio Torres, project leader, ADPP, Mozambique
Pedro Janela, teacher, Mozambique
Gilda Vieira de Mello, mother of Vieira de Mello
Kek Galabru, League for Promotion of Human Rights, Cambodia
Jahanshah Assadi, UNHCR representative, Thai border
Mieke Bos, executive assistant, Cambodia
King Sihanouk of Cambodia
Son Soubert, Cambodian Constitutional Council member
Hang Touphy, former Cambodian refugee
Martin Griffiths, director of Center for Humanitarian Dialogue
Laurent Vieira de Mello, son of Vieira de Mello
José Ramos-Horta, East Timor minister of foreign affairs, Nobel Prize Laureate
Xanana Gusmão, president, East Timor
Domingos do Amaral, Vieira de Mello's translator, East Timor
Sebastião Guterres, UN staff member and professor
Bishop Nascimento, East Timor
Carolina Larriera, economic liaison, Iraq
Carole Ray, personal assistant, Iraq
Mona Rishmawi, special advisor, Iraq

In June 2003, Sergio Vieira de Mello, the United Nations high commissioner for human rights and Kofi Annan's special envoy to Iraq, delivered a message of hope to a country shattered by war, promising humanitarian aid, reconstruction, refugee return, economic development, legal and judicial reform and an end to occupation. His goals for Iraq were ambitious, but Vieira de Mello was up to the challenge. In a diplomatic career that spanned decades and had taken him to such hot spots as Mozambique, Cambodia and East Timor, the brilliant and charming diplomat known throughout the world simply as Sergio had often been able to accomplish the seemingly impossible. But it would be in Iraq where, tragically, his work would be left unfinished. On August 19, 2003 he was killed, along with 21 others, when a massive bomb exploded just outside the UN headquarters in Baghdad. As the struggle for peace in Iraq continues, as well as debate about the role of the U.S. in the process, EN ROUTE TO BAGHDAD provides an inside look at the sometimes overlooked power of diplomacy and reminds audiences of the power that a single human being can have on the world.

Sophisticated, brilliant and idealistic, footage of Sergio Vieira de Mello in EN ROUTE TO BAGHDAD reveals a man of enormous charm and passion. Poised to become the next UN secretary-general, this dashing, Sorbonne-educated, Brazilian-born diplomat possessed an optimistic belief in human nature and a conviction that freedom and self-determination were not only right, but also attainable. In conversations with UN colleagues such as Kofi Annan, former American UN Ambassador Richard Holbrooke, and others, EN ROUTE TO BAGHDAD shows that when the tensions were high, Vieira de Mello was at his best. Known for his ability to bond with everyone, from the poorest refugee to the most hated tyrant, Vieira de Mello’s death is a tragic metaphor for the difficult and ongoing effort to bring stability to Iraq.

In many ways, Vieira de Mello's career also reflects the recent history of the United Nations itself. He traveled to countries torn apart by dictatorships and civil war, working for cooperation and stability, showing equal respect to peasants in Mozambique, teachers in East Timor and royalty in Cambodia—where he was the only UN official able to negotiate with Khmer Rouge leaders, managing to get refugees back to areas under their control.

The EN ROUTE TO BAGHDAD filmmakers traveled to nine countries in seven months—including a brief stay in North Korea at the invitation of King Sihanouk of Cambodia—in order to document how successful Vieira de Mello was in working with the people whose lives he had the power to change. The resulting documentary is a moving portrait of the challenges of international diplomacy and a compelling illustration of how the UN has continued to shape our world.

EN ROUTE TO BAGHDAD was honored with a silver medal from the United Nations Correspondents Association in 2004.

Learn more about Sergio Vieira de Mello >>

View a timeline of his work >>


| The Film | Sergio Vieira de Mello | UN High Commissioner | Filmmaker Bio | Filmmaker Q&A | Learn More | Talkback

Get The Video Talkback Learn More Filmmaker Q&A Filmmaker Bio UN High Commissioner Sergio Vieira de Mello The Film EN ROUTE TO BAGHDAD