Muhammad Ali, Michael Douglas, Antonio Banderas and Melanie Griffith today joined a long list of prominent individuals who have pledged to personally support action for children and called on world leaders to do the same.
The four signed a pledge called "Say Yes for Children," part of a global campaign led by a team of children's rights organizations. The campaign has gathered more than 3.2 million pledges worldwide since April, including those of scores of celebrities, heads of State, and other leading citizens.
The pledges will be presented to national leaders gathering in New York in September for a global summit on children - the first such gathering in 11 years and one of the largest meetings of heads of State ever. The message of the pledge campaign is simple and direct: the citizens of the world care about children and expect governments to keep the promises they make to them.
In addition to signing up to the "Say Yes" pledge, Mr. Ali and Mr. Douglas have agreed to appear in television spots that promote the campaign. Leaders including former South African President Nelson Mandela, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, Bill Gates, South Korean President Kim Dae-jung, as well as actress Susan Sarandon and photographer Sebastião Salgado have already donated their time and talents to urge people everywhere to sign up and get involved.
The series of celebrity TV spots - which feature notable figures reciting the pledge, "I believe that all children should be free to grow to adulthood in health, peace and dignity" - begins airing globally this month.
"I know something about fitness, and there is no greater cause than making the world fit for children. We owe it to them," said Mr. Ali, a UN Messenger of Peace. "I urge everyone, everywhere to join me in saying Yes for Children."
The movement aims to build a groundswell of support that will push leaders to renew and honour their commitments to children at the UN General Assembly's special session on children, taking place in New York, from 19 to 21 September. The 10 principles of the Say Yes pledge are part of the special session's draft outcome document - a critical plan of action for children over the next decade.