Four new Messengers of Peace designated to raise awareness on UN’s work and ideals

21 September 2007 – Marking the International Day of Peace, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today designated four internationally renowned individuals – an equestrian, a conductor, an author and a violinist – to join the ranks of other United Nations Messengers of Peace raising global awareness of the world body’s work and ideals.

As a Messenger, acclaimed conductor and pianist Daniel Barenboim of Israel and Argentina will promote peace and tolerance through the globally shared language of music.

He served as Music Director of the Chicago Symphony for 15 years, and in 1999 co-founded the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra with Palestinian scholar Edward Said to bring young musicians from Israel and the Arab countries together to further dialogue among Middle East cultures.

“Music teaches us to express ourselves to the fullest whilst simultaneously listening to the other,” Mr. Barenboim said in his acceptance of the role. “I will do my very best to carry this message to all the corners of the world.”

Brazilian Paulo Coelho, author of the bestseller “The Alchemist,” also seeks to promote intercultural dialogue in his position as Messenger. Through his Paulo Coelho Institute which he founded with his wife Christina Oiticica, he helps underprivileged member of his home country’s society.

“I gladly accept this responsibility and am committed to do my best to work towards a better future for the current and next generations,” said Mr. Coelho, who also serves as Special Counsellor for Intercultural Dialogues and Spiritual Convergences for the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

In 1982, Japanese-American violinist Midori Goto made her historic debut at the age of 11 with the New York Philharmonic. Since then, she has pushed for the recognition of the potential of children through her non-profit foundation Midori & Friends, which brings music education programmes to thousands of underprivileged children yearly.

As Messenger of Peace, Ms. Goto will advocate for the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), eight targets to slash a host of social ills by 2015, as well as build on her commitment to youth.

In accepting this new role, she said that “this is an opportunity to champion the United Nations’ Millennium Goals in a meaningful way.”

Also promoting the MDGs as Messenger is Princess Haya Bint Al Hussein of Jordan, First Lady of Dubai, who has served as a Goodwill Ambassador for the UN World Food Programme (WFP) and is also the first Arab woman to compete in equestrian events at the continental, world and Olympic levels.

“I really do believe that unless we really tackle the root causes of hunger and poverty, then we remain far from peace,” she told reporters at a press conference moderated by Under-Secretary-General for Communications and Public Information Kiyotaka Akasaka in New York today.

Having previously travelled to Malawi and Ethiopia on behalf of WFP to spotlight the food crises in the two African nations, Princess Haya – the first Arab and the first woman to serve as a Goodwill Ambassador for the agency – will focus on drawing attention to the MDGs, eight targets to slash socials ills by 2015.

“I really believe that the WFP in so many ways gave me the complete foundation to be able to be here today,” she noted.

These four distinguished individuals join primatologist Jane Goodall of the United Kingdom, Academy Award-winning actor Michael Douglas, Nobel Peace Prize laureate Elie Wiesel and cellist Yo-Yo Ma as UN Messengers of Peace.

“All these different problems that face us today – the environmental ones and the social ones and they’re all linked – and if we laid down our weapons tomorrow and had a moment of peace, this wouldn’t last very long unless we learn to conserve the natural world on which we depend,” Ms. Goodall, who champions environmental causes, said at today’s press briefing.

Holocaust survivor Mr. Wiesel highlighted the importance of using one’s past to help others. It is necessary to help others and to “speak of our experience, of our ideas from sadness occasionally,” he said. “And nevertheless it’s possible to do something so we will not be sad.”

Mr. Douglas, who is committed to disarmament issues, including nuclear non-proliferation and halting the global trade in small arms and light weapons, told reporters that “the reality it seems to me that with all the humanitarian gestures in the world, all of the aid efforts that we all can make, unless there is peace in that region, it doesn’t work.”

Also at the briefing, Mr. Akasaka paid tribute to Italian opera singer and Messenger of Peace Luciano Pavarotti who passed away earlier this month, lauding the famed tenor who “devoted so much time and support to the United Nations.”

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