Mourning Luciano Pavarotti’s death, Ban Ki-moon praises him as ‘true friend’ of UN

Mourning Luciano Pavarotti’s death, Ban Ki-moon praises him as ‘true friend’ of UN

Luciano Pavarotti at special UN event (file photo)
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today paid tribute to the late Luciano Pavarotti who beyond being one of the world’s foremost tenor singers was a United Nations Messenger of Peace.

“Mr. Pavarotti made a profound contribution not only to music and the arts, but also to people in need around the world,” Mr. Ban said in a statement issued by his spokesperson. “His work for children – particularly those affected by armed conflict – stretched from Afghanistan to Liberia and beyond.

“By staging concerts and marshalling talented friends to help raise funds, he generated millions of dollars for humanitarian aid. A true friend of the UN, he described himself as ‘a small link to help promote the humanitarian aims and inviolable rights which are under the United Nations flag,’” the statement added.

Mr. Ban joins Mr. Pavarotti’s countless fans and admirers, as well as all those he worked to help and heal, “in giving thanks for his life,” it concluded.

The Geneva-based Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) also issued a statement paying tribute to the singer as a “staunch supporter” of its work on behalf of people driven from their homes.

“Mr. Pavarotti was deeply concerned about the plight of the world’s uprooted people and generously used his talents to mobilize public opinion and support for UNHCR's global refugee work,” the agency said.

“His annual ‘Pavarotti and Friends’ concerts, bringing together some of the world’s greatest rock and pop stars, provided invaluable support to UNHCR’s projects in Kosovo in 1999, for Afghan refugees in Pakistan in 2001, for Angolan refugees in Zambia in 2002, and for the agency's Iraq operation in 2003,” it added.

Individual donations during and after the concerts and the proceeds from ticket sales and CDs totalled more than $7 million for refugee projects over the years, according to the statement.

In 2001, Mr. Pavarotti was presented the Nansen Refugee Award, granted annually by UNHCR in recognition of outstanding service to the cause of refugees, for his great generosity. At the time, he had raised more funds for the agency than any other individual.

“He will be fondly remembered by the many UNHCR staff around the world who had the pleasure of working with him,” the agency’s Regional Representative for Italy Walter Irvine said.