Statement by Mr. Miguel Moratinos
The High Representative for UNAOC
A Tribute to the Memory of H.E. President Jorge Sampaio
6 December 2021
Your Excellency, Mr. Antonio Guterres, United Nations Secretary-General
Your Excellency, Mr. Augusto Santos Silva, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Portugal
Distinguished delegates and guests,
Thank you all for joining us today as we pay tribute to an extraordinary man and a remarkable statesman and a visionary who was a mentor for many including people in this room.
I invite you all to stand for a minute of silence in honor of H.E. President Jorge Sampaio.
The lives of great men teach us that we can make our lives sublime and meaningful and when we depart this world, we leave behind us footprints on the pages of history.
As such was the life of His Excellency, President Jorge Sampaio. He left his mark as President of Portugal, as a UN official leading the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations at its infancy, and as a Special Envoy to Stop Tuberculosis as well as a humanist in the service of humanity.
President Sampaio only knew too well that no one is indispensable, including himself.
Not only did he understand and recognize the value of great opportunities, but he also created them and used them to help others, serve the community and reduce human suffering.
Our world is going through trying times. We are far from being out of the woods. Not just yet. Division, mistrust, hatred and discrimination define our times.
That’s why we chose President Sampaio’s wise words “Solidarity is not an option; it is a duty” to headline this tribute.
His words are a reminder that we all have a part to play in the quest for a better future of dignity, opportunity and prosperity for all people living together, equally, as One Humanity in One Planet.
Saving the planet and saving Our humanity are intertwined and interdependent.
Thirteen years ago, President Sampaio reiterated the same words we are saying today, At UNAOC first Global Forum in Madrid in 2008, he said in his opening statement:
“In our world marked by such profound imbalances, it is not just the planet that is showing an advanced state of degradation but also, unfortunately, human atmosphere. Therefore, ladies, and gentlemen, the dialogue between civilizations, religions and cultures is turning to a humanitarian urgency that cannot be postponed.”
President Sampaio echoed the same words during our last meeting in Lisbon on 25 November 2019 at the Lisbon Forum.
This is how visionary he was.
And It is his visionary leadership that was the building block of what the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations became today. Myself and my predecessor Amb Nasser Abdelaziz Al Nassir built on that solid bases that Pres. Sampaio put together, ably in 2007.
He conceptualized new parameters of “living together” or what we define in Spanish as “Convevencia”.
I can speak for hours about President Sampaio and his accomplishments. But I will leave it to all the distinguished speakers who will follow and who have known him and worked with him more than I did.
I was fortunate and honored to work with President Sampaio during our time in office, him as the President of Portugal and myself as Foreign Minister of Spain. Then again when he assumed his tenure as the first High Representative of the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations from 2007-2012.
President Sampaio’s integrity, humility and belief in our common humanity, our common good informed all his actions as a statesman and as a human being.
In that sense, his legacy will continue to inspire us all at UNAOC.