En Route to Baghdad

The death of Sergio Vieira de Mello became a tragic metaphor for the effort to bring stability to Iraq.

Film Signature Image
Independent Lens, Global Voices
Premiere Date
October 18, 2005
60 minutes

Simone Duarte

Simone Duarte is a Brazilian journalist whose credits include a 2002 Emmy nomination for the news coverage of the 9/11 attacks and a 2001 Honorable Mention from the United Nations Correspondents Association for her television series on East Timor. She was the New York News Bureau chief of TV Globo, the main network in South America and has 15 years of Show more experience as a television producer, writer, and correspondent. In 1999, Duarte worked for the United Nations in East Timor in the early days of Sergio Vieira de Mello's administration. Her first short documentary, Archivo de la Identidad (2002), about the children who disappeared during the dictatorship in Argentina, has been featured in human rights film festivals around the world, including the Amnesty International Film Festival in the United States, and was acquired by Brazilian television. Duarte has a degree in communications from Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro and has a master’s degree in International Affairs from The New School in New York City. She is an Eisenhower Fellow and a member of the organization’s Alumni Advisory Council, as well as a member of the steering committee of the French think tank Institute pour la Ville en Mouvement. Show less

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The Film

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.