BIOGRAPHIES   

Takehito Nakata

Mr. Takehito Nakata (Japan) became involved with UNV after his only son, Atsuhito Nakata, was assassinated while working as a UN Volunteer with the UN Transitional Authority in Cambodia in 1992. Mr. Nakata abandoned a successful import-export career to follow his son's example in promoting human rights and the UN's vital work for the international community. Mr. Nakata became the first UNV Goodwill Ambassador in 1993.

Since then, he has been tireless in his commitment and willingness to be of service to the UN, undertaking speaking engagements and field missions to Cambodia, India, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Mongolia, and elsewhere. His work to ensure that UNV's contributions to the international community are recognized at the highest levels of the Japanese Government has been critical in strengthening the partnership between UNV and Japan.

Arja Saijonmaa
Finnish activist Arja Saijonmaa is one of Scandinavia's leading artists and singers, and has sold more than two million albums. She has also starred in movies and musicals specially written for her. Ms. Saijonmaa has always had a strong commitment to human rights issues, starting her international career by giving voice to the Greek composer and freedom fighter Mikis Theodorakis on his world tour in the 1970s.

In 1994, Arja Saijonmaa initiated and organized a major televised peace concert for UNESCO in Oslo, where Yasir Arafat and Shimon Perez appeared on stage together with 200 Palestinian, Israeli and Norwegian children singing "We Want Peace." She co-hosted this event with Harry Belafonte. Ms. Saijonmaa was appointed Goodwill Ambassador for UNHCR in 1987, and has subsequently visited over 40 refugee camps. She has also done several documentary films on refugees, and published many articles and music albums about her experiences.

Dr. Chea Samnang Dr. Chea Samnang, a doctor and actor, was appointed as UNFPA Goodwill Ambassador for Cambodia in 2000. He spent his childhood in the countryside, after his family fled Phnom Penh during the rule of the Khmer Rouge. After the regime's collapse, his family returned to the city, where he went to school and became a doctor in 1999.

Dr. Samnang has committed himself to working with youth, raising awareness about women's equality, reproductive health issues and HIV/AIDS, which he has described as his country's "second killing field." On Women's Day 2001, he appealed to men to stop gender violence since it harmed not only women's health,but also the socio-economic well-being of families and of the nation as a whole. He asked the Cambodian Government and local authorities to take action and enforce laws that criminalize such violence.
Alexander Sanger
A foremost advocate of birth control, Alexander Sanger was appointed UNFPA Goodwill Ambassador in 2001. The grandson of Margaret Sanger, the founder of the birth control movement over 80 years ago, he is currently Chair of the International Planned Parenthood Council.

As a spokesperson and advocate, Mr. Sanger was named "One of the 100 Most Influential People on the Planet" in 1995 by Earth Times. He attended and lectured at both the 1994 United Nations International Conference on Population and Development in Cairo, and the United Nations Fourth World Conference on Women at Beijing in 1995.

Alexander Sanger directed extensive lobbying efforts to convince members of the U.S. Congress to release international family planning funds in early 1997, and each year thereafter. He is committed to raising awareness in the United States, and throughout the world, about the needs and demands for quality reproductive health care, education and facilities in developing countries.
Rosy Senanayake
Rosy Senanayake (Sri Lanka) was appointed UNFPA Goodwill Ambassador for her country in 1997. Much of her professional life has been devoted to promoting Sri Lanka to the outside world, particularly in the area of trade. She was crowned the first Mrs. World in 1984, winning the inaugural competition of that pageant. Since then Ms. Senanayake has taken a great interest in promoting the rights of women and adolescents in her country.

As UNFPA Goodwill Ambassador she has promoted reproductive health services for workers, in particular for migrant women workers in Sri Lanka's Free Trade Zone, and for young people, through the National Youth Services Council. She also initiated a campaign with the private sector in Sri Lanka to provide reproductive health services to employees of private companies. She recently starred in a film about reproductive health, shot in Sri Lanka.

Jamal Soliman

Jamal Soliman, a movie star, was named UNFPA Goodwill Ambassador for Syria in December 1998. He is highly regarded in the Arab world and has won acclaim for his television drama series, such as "Al-Thoraya (The Lantern)", "Al-Mahkoum (Sentenced)" and "Al-Fosoul Al-Arbaa (The Four Seasons)".

In July 2001, Mr. Soliman gave a speech during World Population Day activities, which made a powerful plea for a more equitable world, with the equal participation of women to build a decent future. This year, he is helping to prepare the commemoration of World Population Day, on 11 July.

Sir Peter Ustinov
A legend of film and theatre, an accomplished actor, producer, director, novelist, playwright and raconteur, Sir Peter Ustinov (United Kingdom) became UNICEF's second Goodwill Ambassador in 1968. In 1998 he was honoured by UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan for his 30 years of dedicated service to the Organization and was knighted by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II in recognition of his humanitarian work. Sir Peter has represented UNICEF in international TV specials, undertaken field missions, and spotlighted children's needs in countless media interviews. He has, in particular, helped raise awareness of UNICEF's campaign to eliminate childhood deficiencies in three vital micronutrients: iodine, iron and vitamin A. Recently, Sir Peter Ustinov gave several media interviews, and spoke at the International Children's Centre in Istanbul, where he was nominated Honorary Fellow.
Mechai Viravaidya
Mechai Viravaidya is a Thai Senator and founder and Chairman of the Population and Community Development Association (PDA), which provides the Thai population with community-based family planning services.

In the 20-year period following the initiation of PDA, the average number of children per family in Thailand fell from seven to two - one of the most rapid fertility declines recorded in the modern era. Viravaidya's non-governmental organization has also successfully mobilized significant support from the corporate sector for rural development activities through its Thai Business Initiative in Rural Development (TBIRD).

He received the United Nations Population Award in 1997, and was appointed UNAIDS Ambassador in October 1999.

Elie Wiesel
Nobel Peace Prize winner and Boston University Professor Elie Wiesel (USA) was appointed Messenger of Peace in 1998. Urged by the novelist François Mauriac to bear witness to his experiences as a Holocaust survivor, Wiesel wrote his first book, Night, in 1956. All of Wiesel's novelistic work reflects his personal experiences, as well as his attempt to resolve the ethical torment of why the Holocaust happened, and what it revealed of human nature. He became a noted lecturer on the sufferings experienced by Jewish people and others during the Holocaust.

His ability to transform this personal concern into a universal condemnation of all violence, hatred, and oppression has led him to use his talents as an author, teacher, and storyteller to defend human rights and peace throughout the world.