On August 19, 2003, when the United Nations' headquarters in Baghdad was bombed, envoy Sergio Vieira de Mello was among those killed. U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan called his death "a bitter blow to the United Nations," and added, "I can think of no one we could less afford to spare than Sergio." More than a tragic loss of life, Vieira de Mello's death signaled the shape of things to come in an occupation that has defied U.N. convention and arguably suffered greatly as a result. Vieira de Mello's history is in many ways a recent history of the U.N. itself. Time and again he traveled to countries torn apart by dictatorships and civil war, working for organization, cooperation, and stability. He showed equal respect to peasants in Mozambique, teachers in East Timor, and royalty in Cambodia-all testaments to his astounding ability to bring people together under a single cause. Interviews with Kofi Annan, Richard Holbrooke, Cambodia's former Cambodian King Norodom Sihanouk, and more show a man whose pragmatism was matched by his sense of dedication to humanity. En route to Baghdad captures the man's passion and provides a compelling illustration of how the U.N. has quietly but doggedly shaped our world. Like Vieira de Mello, the organization has not sought the spotlight. And, more often than not, when allowed to work the way its administrators know it should, the U.N. gets results where unilateral diplomacy does not.
Before going solo, Simone Duarte was the News Bureau chief of TV Globo in New York. She was nominated for an International Emmy for her coverage of the 9/11 attacks. She worked for the UN in East Timor during the early days of Sergio Vieira de Mello's administration. In 2001, she won an Honorable Mention from the UN Association of Correspondents for the feature series she did on East Timor. Duarte's first documentary, Archivo de la Identidad, has been featured in Human Rights Film Festivals around the world, including the Amnesty International Film Festival. En Route to Baghdad has been selected at the Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo International Film Festivals, Miami International Film Festival, Human Rights International Film Festivals in Geneva and Paris, and the Singapore International Film Festival.