United States singer-songwriter Stevie Wonder is joining the prestigious roster of United Nations Messengers of Peace to advocate for the Organization’s work, with the artist – blind since birth – championing people with disabilities.
“Our newest Messenger of Peace is someone who is admired by millions of people and has given back to millions of people,” Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said today ahead of Mr. Wonder’s official designation at a news conference on Thursday.
“I recognize that he has consistently used his voice and special relationship with the public to create a better and more inclusive world, to defend civil and human rights and to improve the lives of those less fortunate. Stevie Wonder is a true inspiration to young people all over the world about what can be achieved despite any physical limitations.”
He will join 10 other Messengers of Peace – individuals widely recognized for their talents in the arts, academia, literature, sports and entertainment – in helping to raise worldwide awareness of UN ideals and activities. Through their public appearances, contacts with the international media and humanitarian work, they expand public understanding of how the UN helps to improve the lives of people everywhere.
The other Messengers of Peace and their areas of focus are: conductor Daniel Barenboim (peace and tolerance); actor George Clooney (peacekeeping); author Paulo Coelho (poverty and intercultural dialogue); actor Michael Douglas (disarmament); primatologist Jane Goodall (conservation and environmental issues); violinist Midori Goto (Millennium Development Goals and Youth); Princess Haya Bint al Hussein (Millennium Development Goals and hunger); cellist Yo-Yo Ma (youth); actor Charlize Theron (ending violence against women); and Nobel Laureate Elie Wiesel (human rights).
“Stevie Wonder’s activism has been pivotal in US and world events,” the UN noted in a news release, citing the 1983 campaign he spearheaded to make Martin Luther King Day a national holiday in the US, and his advocacy for ending apartheid in South Africa.
He has been recognized for his philanthropic efforts, including the President's Committee on Employment of People with Disabilities, the Children’s Diabetes Foundation, Junior Blind of America and the creation of the Wonder Vision Awards Program. For over 10 years, he has provided toys for children and families in need with his annual House Full of Toys benefit concert.
His career as a recording artist has reflected his concern with humanitarian issues. He has written, produced and/or performed songs relative to charities in support of disabilities, AIDS, cancer, diabetes, hunger and homelessness, domestic abuse and many other causes on behalf of children and adults.