The Secretary-General was deeply saddened to learn of the death of Professor Wangari Maathai. A globally recognized champion for human rights and women's empowerment, Professor Maathai was a pioneer in articulating the links between human rights, poverty, environmental protection and security –for which she was awarded the 2004 Nobel Peace Prize.
Professor Maathai contributed over many decades to furthering the ideals and objectives of the United Nations. In recognition of her deep commitment, the Secretary-General named her a UN Messenger of Peace in December 2009, with a focus on the environment and climate change. In June 2010 the Secretary-General asked her to join an eminent group of personalities responsible for using their global credibility and renown to boost progress toward the Millennium Development Goals. She served effectively and enthusiastically in both roles.
Professor Maathai's association with the United Nations spans decades. She was known throughout the development and human rights community not just for her inspirational eloquence, but for her human warmth. Her passing is a loss for the people of Kenya and the world, in particular as we prepare for next year's crucially important Rio+20 UN Conference on Sustainable Development.
The Secretary-General extends deep condolences to Professor Maathai's family and friends. At this time of sorrow, let us remember the remarkable contributions of a remarkable woman.