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Celebrity advocates wrap-up UN forum

Celebrity advocates wrap-up UN forum

UN Goodwill Ambassadors at news conference in New York
Ending two days of meetings at United Nations Headquarters in New York, group of celebrity advocates said today that their involvement in UN-related efforts was motivated by the opportunity to spread a positive message and promote a better understanding of complex global issues.

The star-studded event brought together 48 prominent personalities from the worlds of art, film, music, sports, literature and public affairs - who are known as UN Goodwill Ambassadors and Messengers of Peace. They participated in workshops, shared information on the priorities of the UN system and discussed ways for lending greater impetus to the Millennium Development Goals.

Speaking at a press conference at UN Headquarters, film star Ms. Jolie said that working with refugees as an Ambassador for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) had changed her life. She explained that she was attending the meeting to learn about the other parts of the UN and how best to work with the other UN Goodwill Ambassadors.

For his part, actor Danny Glover, a Goodwill Ambassador for the UN Development Programme (UNDP), said his decision to become involved with the agency was because of his keen interest in community development and how nations and communities used resources to further advance their particular objectives.

Mechai Viravaidya, a senator from Thailand and a Goodwill Ambassador for the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), said he worked in Asia to convince governments there that the biggest AIDS problem would soon be in that continent and not in Africa. His role was to convince governments to stop denying the problem and instead, to make political and financial commitments to addressing HIV/AIDS.

Introducing himself as "Moore," "Roger Moore," the British actor and UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) Ambassador said the role of a Goodwill Ambassador could be summarized by the two words: good and will. "What is 'good' about a Goodwill Ambassador," he explained to assembled media, "is the good we try to do and one good thing is that you're here to listen to us." The "will" was the will to do something for the world, he added.

Joining the others at the press conference was Belgian television personality Goedele Liekens, an Ambassador on behalf of the UN Population Fund (UNFPA). She said she attended the meeting because it was important for Goodwill Ambassadors to learn how the UN works and important for her to know how to address UN-related topics to the public. During the event, Ms. Liekens said, she had learned much about the UN and would use her experience in Belgium to "tell the world to keep up this good work."