Dear Friends and Admirers of Jo Cox,
We were all shocked and saddened when Jo was taken away from us under the most brutal of circumstances a few days ago. Our thoughts and prayers are now with her husband Brendan and her two young children.
That we all gather here today at the UN is a tribute to Jo, and is a sign of how profoundly she touched our hearts. But also of how strongly her death has reminded us of standing up for values and principles that unite us – not divide us – in today’s deeply troubled world.
Last night, I talked to Joanne Nichols, one of Jo’s long time friends and colleagues from Oxfam, having served in London and Brussels. Joanne told me about Jo’s generosity and warmth. She said her smile melted everybody. Her sense of humour broke ice and transformed tense situations into real conversations, a real skill. Her humanity and respect for all human beings, and their dignity and equal value permeated and informed everything she did.
“There is more that unites us than divides us”. These words from Jo are now spread around the world. So are Brendan’s words, saying: “Hate does not have a creed, race or religion – it is poisonous”.
In this moment of grief, anger and frustration for many of us, let us ask ourselves what we can do to best honour Jo Cox and her life.
I suggest we do everything to grow stronger and stand taller than ever behind the values and principles which Jo lived for and which are remarkably close to the UN Charter. We must never give in to fear. We must never succumb to violent provocations. If we do, the extremists and perpetrators will declare victory.
So, instead let us be inspired. Let us be energized by Jo’s courage and Jo’s commitment for a common humanity. Let us take actions in her spirit. And let us mobilize all good forces around the convictions we know Jo embraced.
New York, 22 June 2016