The United Nations Messengers of Peace are distinguished individuals, carefully selected from the fields of art, literature, science, entertainment, sports or other fields of public life, who have agreed to help focus worldwide attention on the work of the United Nations.
Backed by the highest honour bestowed by the Secretary-General on a global citizen for an initial period of two years, these prominent personalities volunteer their time, talent and passion to raise awareness of United Nations efforts to improve the lives of billions of people everywhere.
The Messengers of Peace, through their public appearances, contacts with the international media and humanitarian work, help expand understanding of how the ideals and objectives of the Organization demand everyone’s attention.
Thanks to their goodwill and reputation, many of these prominent individuals have successfully helped raise visibility around pressing regional and local issues in international media and more generally about the work of the United Nations. Beyond galvanizing attention to a specific issue, some have helped effectively lend their voice to campaigns which have inspired countless to take action.
In the past, celebrity advocates have participated in activities and events ranging from concerts to giving keynote addresses at high-level United Nations events, to using social media such as Twitter and Facebook to broaden a particular campaign’s reach. Messengers of Peace also visit United Nations programmes and activities in the field, which help raise visibility around pressing regional and local issues in international media.
The United Nations Secretary-General appoints Messengers of Peace. Goodwill Ambassadors, on the other hand, are designated by the heads of United Nations Funds, Programmes and specialized Agencies, e.g., UNICEF, the World Food Programme (WFP) and UNHCR. Goodwill Ambassadors are subsequently endorsed by the Secretary-General.
Since the Messengers of Peace programme was established in 1997, successive Secretaries-General have appointed celebrated personalities to lend their names, reputations and energy to press for a more peaceful world.
In 2010, in response to a General Assembly request to mark the International Year of Biodiversity, for the first time the Secretary-General appointed a United Nations Goodwill Ambassador.