Celebrity advocates of UN causes to meet in New York next week

Gillian Sorenson

12 June 2002 – An upcoming gathering of dozens of celebrities who lend their names as advocates of the United Nations will be an important step in their efforts to promote the world body's work, a senior UN official said today.

"The purpose of the meeting is to deepen their understanding of the UN and its many roles, to strengthen their connection to the whole UN system, and to reinforce their roles as advocates and spokesman who inform, who inspire and raise awareness and raise funds, who travel to the frontlines and help us carry our message to a larger public," Gillian M. Sorensen, the Assistant Secretary-General for External Relations, told a press briefing.

Forty-six prominent UN Messengers of Peace and Goodwill Ambassadors from the worlds of art, music, film, sports, literature and public affairs, will meet on 18 and 19 June. The list of participants includes Roger Moore, Danny Glover, Elie Weisel, Harry Belafonte, Angelina Jolie, Sir Peter Ustinov and Vanessa Redgrave.

The Secretary-General, who invited the celebrities to the event, will open the session on Tuesday morning and host a luncheon in their honour later that day, she noted.

Anticipating serious discussions on key issues facing the world today, Ms. Sorensen said the UN would brief participants on humanitarian crises, the fight against AIDS and other diseases, poverty eradication, sustainable development, and peace and security. A seminar on advocacy in action would tackle "in very open and frank ways the possibilities - as well as the limits - of being a celebrity spokesman or advocate," she observed.

Ms. Sorensen voiced hope that the event would help the participants feel "more connected, more informed, more comfortable with UN issues, and more prepared to speak on many occasions - not just those organized here - about the United Nations."

"We think this is a very special gathering - we know that [celebrities] reach audiences and younger people that our own speakers sometimes do not, so we welcome this occasion and look forward to a very lively and interesting exchange," the Assistant Secretary-General said.

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