Essex Law School Professor Accorded the Title of Sérgio Vieira de Mello Chair

Photo by Jason Leung on Unsplash

Upon the nomination of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), Professor Geoff Gilbert has been accorded the title of Sérgio Vieira de Mello Professor of International Human Rights & Humanitarian Law in the Essex Law School & Human Rights Centre at the University of Essex!

Sérgio Vieira de Mello worked most of his life for the UNHCR, retired and was then asked to serve as Special Representative of the Secretary-General to Iraq. He was killed in the Baghdad bombing of 2003. He was Brazilian and the government immediately created Sérgio Vieira de Mello Chairs that were meant to be available across the whole of South and Central America to promote education on and for, research regarding, and solidarity with forcibly displaced persons.

The expansion beyond Brazil did not happen until Goeff took on the role of inaugural Chair of the Secretariat of the Global Academic Interdisciplinary Network and there are now SVdM Chairs in Dominican Republic, Costa Rica, Mexico, and Ethiopia, with plans for Mozambique and Thailand. Geoff’s initial plan was for the chairs to be established in low- and middle-income countries that host the vast majority of the 103 million people within UNHCR’s mandate, but UNHCR wants to expand these globally akin to United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Chairs. 

Geoff is the first Sérgio Vieira de Mello Professor in the global North, reflecting his education, research and solidarity regarding forcibly displaced persons for the past thirty (30) years.

Congratulations to Professor Gilbert!

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